What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common condition that can affect fertility. Laparoscopic surgery can successfully treat this condition, and also improve your chance of conceiving with IVF.

Endometriosis is the leading cause of infertility in women, a fact that drives many to pursue in-vitro fertilization. However, some endo women who have undergone IVF suggest the procedure could be a double-edged sword. Although it increases the odds that an endo woman can successfully conceive, carry and deliver a healthy bouncing baby, three endo women interviewed by The Blossom believe IVF-assisted conception can come at a serious cost: good health.

How does Endometriosis Happen?

There are several different ideas about how and why endometriosis happens. One idea is that when a woman has her period, some of the blood and tissue from her uterus travels out through the fallopian tubes and into the abdominal cavity. This is called retrograde menstruation.

Another idea is that some cells in the body outside of the uterus can change to become the same kind of cells that line the uterus. This is a common explanation for endometriosis at unusual sites like the thumb or knee. Another possible explanation is that the cells from the lining of the uterus travel through the blood vessels or through the lymphatic system to reach other organs or body areas. Also, endometriosis can spread at the time of surgery. For example, a woman with endometriosis that undergoes a cesarean section could inadvertently have some endometriosis cells attach to the abdominal incision so that she has endometriosis in the scar from the surgery.

How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

To diagnose endometriosis, a doctor must perform a laparoscopy (a surgery where a doctor looks in the abdomen with a camera usually through the belly button) and take a sample of a suspected endometriosis lesion. Some physicians and patients may try to treat suspected endometriosis with certain medications to see if symptoms are improved without having to undergo surgery. Although this may be possible, endometriosis cannot be diagnosed by improvement in symptoms with medication alone.