Endometriosis is a medical condition that causes infertility in women. In this condition, endometrial cells which usually cover the lining of the uterus, start growing in other areas as well. These cells are influenced by hormones and behave in a manner that is similar to the cells that outline the cavity of the uterus. Endometriosis occurs usually during the reproductive period and is observed in 5-10% of women. It is one of the most common symptoms of infertility among women.
It is a progressive condition and its impact on the body increases with time. It can also reoccur after treatment. The endometrial tissue that is outside the uterus responds to menstrual cycle in the same way as the tissue inside the uterus does. It swells and becomes thick and starts to shed to indicate the beginning of the menstrual cycle.Â The blood generated by these actions, does not have a proper place to go, and accumulates, causing an inflammation that damages or affects the fallopian tubes and the entire process of ovulation.Â Ovarian cysts can also be formed, in a condition known as endometrioma and they may restrict and interfere with ovulation.
The exact causes of endometriosis are not known and there are only theories available for researchers to work on. According to one theory, during menstruation a part of the menstrual tissue moves from the fallopian tubes to the abdomen from where it starts growing. According to another theory, during fetal development itself, endometrial cells develop outside the uterus and start growing.Â There are several reasons about the impact of endometriosis on infertility. Women experience a lot of pain because of this condition during intercourse and they may choose to not have intercourse often, reducing their chances of becoming pregnant. The scar tissue which is formed due to endometriosis adheres to the ovary, thus restricting the overall area available for egg release.
These adhesions can also be found around the fallopian tubes and can hinder their ability to transport eggs from the ovary to the uterus.Â It might even block the fallopian tube on certain occasions, making fertilization a distant possibility. The peritoneal fluid in women suffering from endometriosis contains a large number of scavenger cells, which destroy sperm cells and reduce the chances of fertilization. Endometriosis is also the cause for pelvic pain and is the reason behind people opting for laparoscopic surgery and hysterectomy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually prescribed for women to help reduce pelvic pain and cramping during periods. NSAIDâ€™s are also prescribed for relieving pain. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs (GnRH analogs) are also used to reduce pain and the size of endometriosis implants. They lead to a lot of side-effects such as hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue and osteoporosis. Oral contraceptive pills and also progestins are used to treat endometriosis. Aromatase inhibitors and even surgery are options that are considered for the treatment of endometriosis. Thus, endometriosis is a serious condition and can lead to infertility in women.