It is believed that painful periods and infertility could have a common cause, endometriosis. More than six million women in the United States suffer from this condition.
According to The Cleveland Clinic, “About 30 percent to 40 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile, making it one of the top three causes for female infertility.” That is the bad news. The good news is that the infertility can be reversed with hormone treatments and endometriosis surgery.
Endometriosis occurs when the uterine tissue starts growing outside of the uterus in the pelvic and abdominal areas. It can grow on the organs surrounding that area, affecting everything from bowel movements, urination, to the ability to conceive. The tissue is often found growing on or around the ovaries.
Most women find out they have endometriosis after not being able to get pregnant. With women waiting longer to have children, they are often not diagnosed with the condition until they are in their 30’s.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the relationship between endometriosis and infertility is an active area of research. Researchers say, “Some studies suggest that the condition may change the uterus so it does not accept an embryo. Other work explores whether endometriosis changes the egg, or whether endometriosis gets in the way of moving a fertilized egg to the uterus.”
According to Endometriosis.org, there are many theories indicating why it is harder for women with endometriosis to conceive. While none have been proven, some theories listed include, “pelvic adhesions inhibiting the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube, poor quality of eggs, as well as chemicals produced by the endometriosis inhibit the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube. Other theories sited also include, “inflammation in the pelvis caused by endometriosis stimulates the production of cells that attack the sperm and shorten their life span, eggs are not released from the ovaries each month.”
Some of the treatments for endometriosis include both a hormone regimen and/or surgery. Depending on the person, hormones, such as progesterone, or birth control pills could be prescribed.