5 Things You Ought To Know When You're Trying To Conceive With Endometriosis
If you’re trying to get pregnant and you know (or suspect) you have endometriosis, you might be wondering how this disease will affect you. These are the 5 things I wish I knew when I started trying to conceive with endometriosis.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m a fertility doula with experience TTC with endo. If you’re concerned that you might have endometriosis or fertility issues, talk to your doctor.
1. Not everyone who has endometriosis will have fertility problems
Less than 50% of people with endo deal with infertility.
Pelvic pain and fatigue are commonly-known symptoms of endo. Black or brown spotting for a few days before your period is one endo symptom that often shows up in those dealing with infertility.
You may not know that you have endometriosis, as some people don’t have major symptoms. One study concluded that, “Conservatively, 11% of women have undiagnosed endometriosis at the population level.”
2. Your body = Your decision
Your health care provider’s job is to give you information and offer advice, not to make the final decision for you. You are the one trying to conceive with endometriosis, therefore you get to make the decisions about how to manage your disease and your fertility.
3. Stopping ovulation may help you get pregnant in the long run
It sounds counter-intuitive, but many doctors will suggest that you go on birth control before a medicated fertility treatment. Another option is Lupron (which gives you a fake menopause). It wasn’t a choice that I made personally.
4. Fertility treatments can make endo symptoms worse
During medicated fertility treatment, like IVF or IUI, you may be given estrogen pills or human growth hormone shots. These have beneficial effects on producing more eggs, but can also make your endo lesions and cysts grow.
In my personal experience, I had very painful periods before IVF, which turned into daily pain after my egg retrievals. My first frozen transfer cycle, I was given estrogen pills, which made my endometriomas (ovarian chocolate cysts) grow quickly. For my following transfers, I opted for a natural ovulation, and no estrogen.
You may be able to ask for natural IUI or transfer cycles. Another option to look into may be immature egg collection.
5. Getting pregnant will not cure your endometriosis
No matter how many times you’re told that getting pregnant will fix your endometriosis, it isn’t true. There have been many instances (mostly anecdotal) where patients have reported fewer endo symptoms like pain and bloating during and after pregnancy.
But getting pregnant isn’t a cure for this disease. For sure, you’re not going to get your period while you’re pregnant, so you may be spared debilitating cramps for 9 months. Some people find, however, that the increased estrogen during pregnancy actually stimulates endo.
Trying to conceive with endometriosis
Getting pregnant with endometriosis might be more difficult than you hoped it would be, but it is possible! We had a successful pregnancy with IVF and I have a few endo friends who conceived naturally.
Keep being kind to yourself and asking questions! You deserve to have the family you wish for.
17 Questions to Ask Your Doctor when you’re Trying to Conceive with Endometriosis
[FREE printable PDF]
- Meuleman C, Vandenabeele B, Fieuws S, Spiessens C, Timmerman D, D’Hooghe T. High prevalence of endometriosis in infertile women with normal ovulation and normospermic partners. Fertil Steril. 2009; 92: 68– 74. High prevalence of endometriosis in infertile women with normal ovulation and normospermic partners – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Buck Louis GM, et al.; ENDO Study Working Group. Fertil Steril. 2011. Incidence of endometriosis by study population and diagnostic method: the ENDO study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21719000/
- Ramin-Wright, A., Kohl Schwartz, A. S., Geraedts, K., Rauchfuss, M., Wölfler, M. M., Haeberlin, F., et al. (2018). Fatigue – a symptom in endometriosis. Human Reproduction, 33(8), 1459–1465. Retrieved November 1, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29947766
- Stratton, P., & Berkley, K. J. (2011). Chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis: Translational evidence of the relationship and implications. Human Reproduction Update, 17(3), 327–346. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072022/