It is not known for certain, what causes endometriosis. Some say that it is genetic, while some believe that it is caused, at least in part, by backward flow of menstrual fluid, which can cause normal menstrual fluid to leak into the abdomen. There is also no known way to prevent endometriosis.
But statistics show that endometriosis makes it harder for women to get pregnant. This may be related to an underlying immune condition that increases inflammation. Inflammation is caused by chemicals called cytokines, which are released when the immune system steps in to fix a problem. Endometrial tissue outside the uterus is one such problem.
High levels of cytokines can negatively affect not only fertility, but the outcome of pregnancy and the health of the embryo. Cytokines can also affect the health of the mother’s eggs. Unhealthy eggs are much less likely to lead to a pregnancy even if a sperm reaches them.
Some common symptoms of endometriosis are as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Heavy periods
- Painful intercourse
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Excessive fatigue
During pregnancy, women who suffer from this disorder may get temporary relief due to high levels of progesterone that often induce a bit of remission.
In many cases, women with endometriosis have had healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Many women have children without difficulty, some have had children before they are diagnosed with the condition, or eventually have a successful pregnancy.
Laparoscopic surgery is used reduce symptoms and improve fertility by removing endometriotic patches, implants, cysts, nodules, and adhesions by cutting them out or burning them.
If someone has endometriosis, medical care should not stop once they become pregnant. Endometriosis is a risk factor if the baby is being born early (before 40 weeks), of there is bleeding after the 24th week of pregnancy, if there is high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), or if delivery is by caesarean section.
Some women with endometriosis, however, do run the risk of giving preterm birth. Also, for affected women, assisted pregnancies like IVF offer a good option. However, success rates of IVF in women with endometriosis are nearly half those of women with other reasons for their infertility. Before trying this form of treatment it is important that your endometriosis is properly treated. IVF treatment includes increasing oestrogen levels, which will encourage the development of existing endometriosis.
If you have ovarian cysts or endometriomas and become pregnant using assisted reproductive technologies (ART), there is a greater risk of the baby being born early (before 40 weeks) and being smaller in size than normal.
Some common tips offered to women to deal with pregnancy planning is to start early. Women overall are much more likely to get pregnant when they are in their twenties than when they are in their thirties and forties. A woman who maintains a healthy weight, eats a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and gets regular exercise, has a body prepared to nourish an embryo.