If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving a child, there are many potential problems that may be causing infertility. Often, the reproductive health of either or both partners is sub-par, such as in the case of poor egg quality or low sperm count. Sometimes, however, infertility is caused by a very specific condition that demands specific treatment. Endometriosis is one such disorder than can impair a woman’s fertility and present a host of additional problems.
By understanding what endometriosis is, you can take the first step toward discerning the cause of your infertility. And by visiting our New Orleans office, you can gain professional insight and a definitive diagnosis. If you do in fact have endometriosis, our staff is prepared to help you through the appropriate treatment process, such as with in vitro fertilization.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder where the tissues that typically line the inside of the uterus also grow on the outside of it. This results in an excess layer of tissue that continues to act as it normally would, but not in proper conjunction with the rest of the body. Whereas the regular uterine lining separates and bleeds out of the body at each menstrual cycle, the external tissues from endometriosis do not have a mechanism by which to be released. As a result, they stay and grow within the body, causing discomfort and other possible complications.
More specifically, endometriosis commonly results in distorted anatomy, scarring along the fallopian tubes, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, decreased egg quality, and impaired embryo implantation. For nearly 50 percent of women with this disorder, some level of infertility can be expected.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
In addition to fertility problems, women with endometriosis may experience some or all of the following:
- Pelvic pain: Women will likely experience pain along the pelvis, lower back, and/or abdomen, especially during periods.
- Pain after sex: Women may experience similar pains during or after sexual intercourse.
- Excessive bleeding: Periods may be heavier than normal, and bleeding may even occur in between regular menstrual cycles.
- Difficult bowel movements: Regular bowel movements may be replaced with constipation, and may be atypically painful during menstruation.
Additionally, endometriosis can result in heightened fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms in conjunction with infertility, be sure to speak with your doctor or one of our fertility experts.
Treatment for endometriosis is dependent upon a few factors. First, the doctor will evaluate the severity of your condition, its symptoms, and its various risks to your health. Next, you should discuss your plans for any future pregnancies, as the fertility treatment should ultimately meet your needs. Together, you can decide on a treatment plan, which usually comprises one or more of the methods below:
- Hormone therapy: Medication may be prescribed to offset any hormonal imbalances. This is likely to slow the growth of endometriotic tissue, but it is not usually a way to fully correct the disorder. Rather, it can reduce pain and other symptoms while taking the medication and considering more permanent options.
- Surgery: The doctor may suggest “conservative” surgery, which involves the excision of endometriotic tissue from around the uterus and ovaries. This is performed with thin instruments, aided by a laparoscopic camera, through a small incision near the navel.
- IVF: In vitro fertilization is a good way to raise your chances of a successful pregnancy in spite of endometriosis. Through a combination of hormonal injections, manual fertilization, and transferring the embryo directly to the uterus, patients are given significantly increased odds.
In the event that endometriosis cannot be remedied or reduced by any of the above methods, some patients consider a hysterectomy as a last resort. In this surgery, the uterus, cervix, and ovaries are removed completely from the body. This prevents the further growth of excess tissue, but it also prevents patients from ever becoming pregnant. Therefore, a hysterectomy is not a good option for infertility treatment.
Contact Our Office
We want to help you solve your fertility problems while giving you the opportunity to be as comfortable and satisfied with your body as possible. If you suspect any problems with your or your partner’s fertility, contact us to schedule an initial consultation.