Endometriosis can lead to infertility. Not all women with endometriosis deal with infertility, but most women with endometriosis take slightly longer to conceive. 30-40% of all women who are infertile have endometriosis, compared to 10% of the general female population that has endometriosis. Many women who have endometriosis also have children without any difficulty. Some women have difficulty getting pregnant, but with assisted reproductive technologies or surgery, they are able to have children.
Some causes of infertility are known, while others are not. If the organs involved conception are damaged by endometriosis, infertility can result. For example, if endometriosis cysts, known as endometriomas, have attached to the ovaries in multiple places, they may deplete the number of eggs or their quality. Additionally, if adhesions have formed on the ovaries or fallopian tubes the eggs may be unable to follow the path down the fallopian tubes. Many women do not have any of these obvious signs that lead to infertility, so the causes of their infertility are not yet known or understood.
Some forms of treatment may help improve fertility. Surgery has been shown to improve rates of pregnancies in some women. The removal of endometriosis tissue or fixing adhesions can treat some of the problems associated with infertility.
Personally, I’m nowhere near ready to have kids, but this is something I am worried about. It can be really hard to face the possibility that I may not have any biological children. I feel I need to prepare myself for the possibility that getting pregnant may be a struggle. I think it will help going into the situation knowing that it may not happen immediately, but there are options to help.
One of the worst aspects of dealing with this idea has been discussing it with other people. Whenever I bring up the possibility that I may be infertile, people react in ways that do not help at all and can, in fact, hurt.
Some people like to tell me stories of that one person they know who has endometriosis but was easily able to have kids. That is great for that person, but each situation is unique and one person’s fertility is not another’s.
I also have people who point out that I’m still young and don’t actually know how it all will turn out. That’s true, but worry is not something that you can just shut off. Plus, preparing myself for new futures helps me deal with the possibilities.
Additionally, I have people that automatically reply “There is always adoption”. At the most basic level this annoys me because of course I know that adoption is always an option. This comment belittles the pain associated with infertility. Imagine being told that something you thought was a guarantee, something that is typified as a traditional step in life, something that you were truly looking forward to, was no longer a sure thing. There is a certain grief with having to realize that the life plan you thought was what you wanted may not be able to happen. I now look forward to the idea of potentially adopting kids, but these comments still hurt.