What Is Endometriosis and How Is it Treated?
Endometriosis can be a particularly painful condition that not only impacts your daily life but can also affect your ability to conceive and carry a baby. At Los Angeles Reproductive Center in Encino and Bakersfield, CA, we strive to find the root cause of your fertility struggles. Let’s explore what endometriosis is, how it impacts fertility, and how our fertility experts can help.
What Is Endometriosis?
The uterus is lined with endometrial tissue. Known as the endometrium, this lining grows each month in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant, thus resulting in pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium sheds during the menstrual cycle.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, endometriosis is a condition that occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. When this occurs, the misplaced endometrial tissue is often found around the uterus in places like:
- Areas between the uterus and rectum or bladder
- Fallopian tubes
- Ligaments around the uterus
- Outside surface of the uterus
- Pelvic cavity
Rarely, endometriosis can cause tissue to grow in other places, such as the vagina, abdomen, and bladder.
Since this tissue cannot be expelled like normal endometrium is expelled during menstruation, it can build up and cause pain and inflammation, as well as other issues like scarring and cysts. Research has found that symptoms of endometriosis vary from patient to patient. Symptoms may include painful menstrual cramps, pain during intercourse, irregular periods, and more. However, some patients with endometriosis may be asymptomatic.
How Can Endometriosis Affect My Ability to Conceive?
There are several reasons why endometriosis can make it difficult to get pregnant. One reason is structural. In some cases, endometriosis can cause a build-up of tissue in places like the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and cervix. This can prevent proper fertilization of the egg or make it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg.
Endometriosis can also cause hormonal changes that affect ovulation and egg quality. Hormonal factors associated with endometriosis can also impact your menstrual cycle, making periods irregular. Irregular periods can make it difficult to conceive naturally.
However, it is important to remember that an endometriosis diagnosis doesn’t mean it is impossible to conceive and carry a baby. Our fertility experts, Dr. Marc Kalan and Dr. Nurit Winkler take an individualized approach to diagnosing and treating endometriosis and give you the best possible chance at a successful pregnancy.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis treatment will vary from patient to patient. Birth control can often help manage endometriosis, but other treatments may include medications to help with pain and inflammation or hormone therapy to regulate hormone production. Surgery to remove the endometrial tissue may be required. In some cases, managing your endometriosis with medications may be all it takes for you to conceive. In other cases, other interventions such as IUI or IVF may be necessary.
In rare cases where the patient can’t conceive despite medical interventions, Los Angeles Reproductive Center can help with alternatives such as surrogacy, where the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm are used to create an embryo in our lab. The embryo is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus to continue the pregnancy.
If endometriosis has affected the quality of your eggs and it isn’t possible to use your eggs, our fertility center can also help with egg donation for IVF or surrogacy, depending on your situation.
Request a Consultation Today
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis or if you have symptoms of endometriosis and are struggling to conceive, request a consultation at our Encino or Bakersfield location today.