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Do you have endometriosis? IVF can help you to become a mother!

Most women with endometriosis learn about their condition only when they start looking into the causes of their infertility. To many of them, the diagnosis is a real blow, because this condition does not belong to diseases with a simple treatment regimen, and it can also be a serious obstacle when trying for a child. Fortunately, patients with endometriosis are not deprived of chances for pregnancy - they can become mothers with the use of in vitro fertilisation.

Endometriosis is the main cause of infertility in the case of as many as 21% of couples trying for a child. This is the most common cause of infertility among women who visit specialists due to inability to get pregnant.

What is endometriosis?

In the simplest terms, endometriosis is a disorder that involves the presence of endometrium, i.e. the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus, outside the uterine cavity (e.g. in the intestinal region, in the vagina). Seemingly, it does not sound scary, but remember that the tissue lining the uterus exfoliates every month and is excreted from the body in the form of menstrual bleeding. In women affected by endometriosis, endometrium is located outside the uterine cavity, causing irritation of adjacent tissues, and then leads to the development of scars and gradual damage to the tissue / organ in which it develops.

What are the worrying symptoms? During menstruation, endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain. Pain can also accompany urination or sexual intercourse. The typical symptoms of endometriosis also include digestive disorders (diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, nausea) and fatigue.

Challenging diagnosis

It might seem that diagnosing endometriosis should be pretty easy for experienced physicians. Unfortunately, this condition is relatively difficult to diagnose because pelvic pain can accompany many other conditions of organs found in the small pelvis, such as ovarian cysts or inflammation. To make matters worse, the complaints cause by the digestive system are so unspecific that they are easily confused with, for example, the irritable bowel syndrome, especially when pelvic pain is not too intense (the severity of pain may vary in individual women with endometriosis). Making a diagnosis is even more complicated when both conditions co-exist.

Factors that increase susceptibility to the development of endometriosis include low body mass index, frequent consumption of alcohol, high blood oestrogen levels, relatively short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days), uterine abnormalities and any other diseases that obstruct menstrual blood flow. It is known that the risk of endometriosis is higher in women who started menstruating early and in those with the family history of endometriosis.

Endometriosis and maternity

According to estimates, from 30% to even 50% of women with endometriosis experience difficulties in getting pregnant. In some of them endometrium damages the fallopian tubes and can lead to their mechanical obstruction. In addition, sites of endometriosis may affect the function of the fallopian tubes, their peristalsis, the composition of the tubal fluid, and thus adversely affect the transport of sperm and eggs and the process of fertilisation, which physiologically occurs in the fallopian tube.

The removal of visible foci of endometriosis during laparoscopy may increase the chances of pregnancy and reduce complaints, but there is the possibility of secondary adhesions and of the emergence of new sites of endometriosis and the accompanying complaints.

If endometriosis is mild or moderate, many patients are able to get pregnant and maintain it until delivery. However, the decision to expand the family should not be delayed, because as time passes, the severity of symptoms will increase while the probability of becoming a mother will decrease.

Is it worth trying IVF?

An option worth considering is in vitro fertilisation, i.e. IVF. In patients with endometriosis, the effectiveness of this method is lower by almost half, but it is still worth trying. “We achieve better results in patients with mild form of endometriosis”, says Piotr Lachowski, MD, a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics at InviMed Fertility Clinic in Wrocław. “This is why it is so important to seek assistance at a specialized facility as soon as possible in the event of unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy. A visit to a gynaecologist who does not deal with diagnosing and treating infertility on a daily basis will not solve the problem; instead, it will unnecessarily delay the diagnosis of its source”, the doctor adds.

Endometriosis is not a death sentence, but this condition is often a big diagnostic challenge and a serious difficulty when trying to get pregnant. If you are often tired, or you have problems with the digestive system, you can hardly bear the menstruation and the pain tends to increase over time, you should consult a specialist.

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