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Endometriosis and Pregnancy

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally only is found in the lining of a woman's uterus, migrates outside the uterus and attaches to other parts of the abdomen or the organs contained there. There are proven implications with endometriosis and pregnancy, with endometriosis infertility being a major issue for many women.

Some women experience symptoms ranging from severe to mild, with the most troublesome being deep, cramping pain. Other women don't have any symptoms and have no idea they have endometriosis until it is diagnosed by a doctor; this often occurs when she seeks medical help because she has been unable to fall pregnant. There is no proven correlation between the severity of the symptoms and the extent or spread of the disease, or the degree to which the implanted endometriosis tissue affects conception.

In a normal menstrual cycle, when an egg is released by the ovaries into the fallopian tube, a hormone prompts the thickening and swelling of the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, in preparation for receiving a fertilized egg. The whole purpose of the specialized endometrial tissue is to receive and nourish the fertilized egg and growing embryo. If the egg is not fertilized, the build-up of blood and tissue comes away and flows out through the vagina during the monthly period.

When endometrial tissue has implanted to a surface outside the uterus, it behaves like the correctly situated endometrium. This means that each month it is prompted to swell and thicken and then bleed but unless it is situated inside the fallopian tubes, it cannot be discharged via the vagina. This internal bleeding can lead to infection, inflammation, scar tissue and adhesions within the abdominal cavity.

A doctor cannot tell if problems with conception are due to endometriosis without making a firm diagnosis. With fertility problems, usually other causes are dealt with first and only when they have been eliminated will the doctor arrange for laparoscopy surgery to investigate the possibility of endometriosis being present. During the laparoscopy procedure, endometrial implants can be removed after they have been identified.

Doctors are not entirely sure how endometriosis and pregnancy are linked but research has shown, without doubt, that a woman who has endometriosis is more likely to experience problems with conception than a woman without the disease. The current statistic is that 20% of women with endometriosis, who are trying to conceive, will not be successful. This means that 80% women who have endometriosis will NOT experience fertility problems, but endometriosis is still a factor in infertility.

The research further shows that women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis have a lower conception rate, and are more susceptible to miscarriage, than women who do not have the condition. All these facts show that endometriosis may, in fact, affect conception but it is certainly not a foregone conclusion that it will, in all women.

It is important if you are experiencing difficulties falling pregnant that you consult your doctor to have the possible causes fully investigated. Don't wait, hoping that you will be successful 'next month', if you have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more. There are numerous reasons for infertility and in many cases, the problem can be reversed. Endometriosis is only one of the causes of infertility and there are treatment options available if the disease has impacted your ability to conceive successfully.

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