Will IVF Help to Overcome Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain and other symptoms. This tissue can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, and other pelvic structures. It can cause cysts in the ovary that are easily identified by ultrasound. The cysts are called endometriomas or “chocolate cysts.”

Endometriosis affects an estimated 20-40% of women of infertile women—a huge burden. It can cause significant pain, discomfort, and infertility; which increases in proportion to the severity of the disease. The condition is usually diagnosed in women in their 30s or 40s, but it can occur at any age during the reproductive years.

Endometriosis can affect fertility in both anatomic, hormonal, and biochemical ways. From a structural point of view, it can lead to the formation of scar tissue or adhesions in the pelvic region. This scar tissue can cause the ovaries, and fallopian tubes, to become distorted. This can prevent the pickup and transport of the egg.

Secondly, endometriosis can affect the quality of the eggs or the uterus lining, preventing the fertilized egg to implant and grow properly. Endometriosis can cause inflammation and hormonal imbalances, which can impact the ability of the ovaries to produce healthy eggs, the tubes to transport the egg and embryo, and the uterus to provide a suitable environment for implantation.

Overall, the severity and extent of endometriosis can vary greatly from person to person, and the impact on fertility can also vary. However, for many women with endometriosis, fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) are often necessary to conceive.

Egg retrieval with IVF and fertilization in the laboratory mitigates the impact of implants in the pelvis. This is because the eggs are removed from the inflamed areas in the pelvis. They are isolated and protected from the adverse effects of implants of endometriosis.

Overall, in patients with endometriosis, the pregnancy rates can be increased by 10 to 25% using in vitro fertilization. Despite any scar tissue in the pelvis, IVF can always allow us to retrieve eggs easily. This is because the eggs are retrieved by direct needle aspiration using ultrasound guidance. We expect a sufficient number of eggs that have good implantation rates and increased pregnancy rates. Overall quite satisfactory pregnancy rates and live birth rates can be achieved using assisted reproduction for endometriosis.

Dr. Steven A. Brody Dr. Steven A. Brody, the Director of the Infertility & Lifespan Medical Institute in San Diego, has spent his professional career providing compassionate and specialized care to help families overcome infertility. Dr. Brody has authored two textbooks, one at Stanford and one with a Nobel Prize winner at Cambridge, entitled “Principles and Practice of Assisted Human Reproduction.” Dr. Brody earned his M.D. degree at Washington University and continued his education with an internship at Yale, a residency at Stanford, and a fellowship at Baylor. Dr. Brody is the only doctor in the U.S. who has achieved Board Certifications in four distinct specialty areas including: Internal Medicine, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility. If you are looking for a compassionate and thorough physician who works with you to overcome infertility and treat any reproductive disorders, call the office or book an appointment online today.

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