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Endometriosis and Infertility - How Can It Be Treated?

Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 9:51 PM

Treating Endometriosis and InfertilityEndometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found elsewhere in a woman’s body. About 5% to 10% of women suffer from this condition, which is known for causing pelvic pain, bloating, and fatigue—all of which are severe in some women. And, although it isn’t a large percentage of women overall who have this disease, there is a large percentage of women who are experiencing infertility who have endometriosis. In fact, roughly 40% of all women who have been diagnosed as infertile also suffer from endometriosis.

Endometrial tissue or lesions can be found anywhere in the body, but it is more common to find them near the pelvic cavity. Common sites are on the ovaries, on the fallopian tubes, in the rectal-vaginal septum, and on the pelvic sidewall. They have also been found on the bladder, bowel, intestines, and colon, among other locations.

Although endometriosis is present in so many women who have fertility problems, for some women it is not their primary cause of infertility. Also, for some women it may not even really be having much of an affect on their fertility. But, for some, it is a large issue. Whether or not it is an issue depends upon the degree and location of the endometrial lesions.

Severe endometriosis can cause the fallopian tubes to become blocked or damaged, in which case no egg can travel through them. Or, the lesions can cause the ovaries to become damaged, which reduces the egg quality and quantity—thereby decreasing the likelihood of conception.

Endometriosis can be treated. A doctor can perform laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometrial tissue.

Laparoscopic surgery is generally an outpatient surgery (though some doctors may choose to require a one-night hospital stay for more severe cases of tissue removal). The woman will be put under general anesthesia for the procedure. Then, the surgeon will cut an incision in her abdomen the abdomen is inflated with gas. This is done so that the abdominal wall is pushed away from the organs and the surgeon can see clearly. Then, he inserts a laparoscope, which is a lighted viewing instrument. The surgeon then either excises the endometrial tissue or he uses a laser beam or electric current to destroy it.

When a woman has a case of endometriosis that is considered mild or moderate, she has a much better chance at being able to conceive naturally after having a laparoscopy. Overall, pregnancy rates for these women have been shown to be the highest between the 6th and 18th month after surgery. Endometriosis is not a disease the can be cured; lesions do reoccur, so perhaps that is why pregnancy rates go down again after the 18th month.

Women with more sever endometriosis can still try the surgery; however, they may still have difficulty achieving conception on their own. Many of these women must turn to in vitro fertilization.

Endometriosis is a mysterious condition—though, many studies have been done, the exact cause of it is still unknown.

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