Endometriosis is a common condition that affects more than 25% of women who experience infertility and more than 5 million people in the US every year. Endometriosis occurs when implants of tissue similar to the lining of the uterine cavity (endometrium)develop in areas outside of the uterus. Endometriosis can be found in various areas of the body including the ovaries and fallopian tubes, the lining of the pelvis especially the anterior and posterior cul-de-sacs, the colon, bladder and many others. At this time, the cause for endometriosis is not well understood.
Some women with endometriosis report having severe pelvic or abdominal pain, painful intercourse, and/or painful periods while other women report no symptoms at all. Infertility can be the main symptom of endometriosis. Although not all women diagnosed with endometriosis are infertile, there is a strong association with infertility and endometriosis. In some cases, moderate to severe endometriosis causes infertility due to the presence of pelvic adhesions that may prevent the release of eggs, block sperm entry into the fallopian tube, or prevent the fallopian tube from picking up eggs during ovulation. Other times, the fallopian tubes are patent and the reason for infertility due to endometriosis is less clear.
In women with infertility and endometriosis, assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer are excellent options for treatment, especially if fertility cannot be restored by less invasive fertility treatments or surgical methods.
For more information about endometriosis, please visit the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s website here.