Endometriosis & Infertility

You may have heard that endometriosis and infertility are frequently linked. Sometimes tagged as “the most under diagnosed disease of women”, it’s estimated that a third of women who are infertile have endometriosis. About a third of women with endometriosis struggle with infertility.

Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, is found elsewhere in the body. This tissue starts to act just like normal uterine tissue and during menstruation the tissue starts to bleed and break down. As this happens, scar tissue starts to form, usually in the pelvic region. The scar tissue can then lead to potential problems with endometriosis and infertility.

When scar tissue forms in the fallopian tubes the tubes may become blocked. This blockage is one of the primary reasons that endometriosis and infertility are connected, as sperm is prevented from reaching the egg for fertilization. Also, when the fallopian tube is blocked, the sperm can reach the egg to fertilize it, but the egg will not move properly down the fallopian tube. This can result in an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.

Some women with endometriosis and infertility have high prostaglandin levels and more peritoneal fluid than normal women. This can also cause problems within the fallopian tubes and with implantation.

Endometriosis may cause luteal phase defects. Many women with endometriosis and infertility have low progesterone levels, and/or their uterine lining doesn’t build itself up normally in the post-ovulation phase. Both of these situations can cause the egg to have trouble implanting in the uterus and can increase your risk of miscarriage and infertility.

Who is at risk?
Most women with endometriosis are over age 30, but endometriosis can start developing as soon as you start to menstruate. Other risk factors for endometriosis include:

  • Having a menstrual cycle less than 28 days
  • Bleeding more than 5 days
  • Painful periods
  • Infertility
  • Congenital abnormality of the uterus
  • Abnormally tight cervical opening
  • Family history of endometriosis

Treatments for Endometriosis

Live a Healthy Lifestyle
As with many health problems that result in infertility, part of an overall natural treatment plan with endometriosis will focus on lifestyle changes you can make. These lifestyle changes will support a more positive outcome, both in the area of getting pregnant and also in helping to reduce endometriosis symptoms.

For example, regular exercise has been shown in several studies to reduce a woman’s risk of endometriosis. If possible, include regular exercise into your daily lifestyle to increase fitness and manage any current symptoms of endometriosis.

Your Diet Matters
Some studies show that a diet high in red meat and low in fruits and vegetables increases the risk of getting endometriosis. Here’s why: endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent health condition. Endometrial tissue levels increase in the body when estrogen levels are high.

Some studies show a higher risk of endometriosis in those who have a diet high in red meat, and low in fruits and vegetables.  This is because endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent condition. When estrogen levels are high, endometrial tissue levels increase in the body. The good news is that there are ways to lower your risk of contracting this disease:

  • Fish oil: Fish oil i is an anti-inflammatory and is high in marine omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants help with disease prevention and can be found in blueberries and some citrus fruits.

Avoid Foods that Increase Prostaglandins
Prostaglandins E2 and F2a are chemicals in the body that create inflammation and pain and stimulate estrogen. If you have endometriosis, avoid the following foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Red meat
  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Sugar
  • Wheat

Get to a Healthy Weight
Along with a healthy diet and better nutrition, it’s important to maintain a normal weight for your body to manage endometriosis and reduce symptoms. Avoid being underweight as endometriosis symptoms might flare. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about a healthy weight loss plan to help you reduce. Your doctor may recommend a nutritionist who will supply you with a weight loss diet and recipes to aid in losing weight. And don’t forget to exercise!

Keeping proper diet and nutrition is important, but we also need to consider a normal bodyweight to reduce and manage symptoms of endometriosis.  If you are overweight, seek help from your doctor to come up with the proper diet plan for your body. Your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist who can share weight-loss tips and recipes to help you lose weight.  Exercise is just as important! Make sure you put time aside weekly to workout!

Do alternative treatments help endometriosis?
Here are some alternative options to treat endometriosis without medication:

  • Yoga is a great way to relieve stress when practiced regularly. It’s also a natural way to cope with emotions during the process. Some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been reported to help their endometriosis along with their treatment plan. TCM can also help regulate your body’s hormones.
  • You can ease endometriosis symptoms with acupuncture and herbal tonics.  Acupuncture points help remove any blockages of energy in your body.  With the energy flowing again unblocked, your body becomes healthy.

Talk to your doctor about natural remedies to help treat endometriosis. With your doctor’s advice, a balanced diet and regular exercise, you’ll be ready to take control of your health.

If you are infertile and have not been checked for endometriosis, talk with your doctor.