Tracking your fertility with endometriosis

Endometriosis, a condition where the type of tissue that grows on the inside of the uterus begins to grow on the outside, is known for the effect it can have on fertility. That’s a big general statement, but what effect can an endometriosis diagnosis have on your fertility and your tracking specifically?

How does endometriosis affect fertility?

While mild to moderate endometriosis often doesn’t stop women from conceiving and carrying to term naturally, in moderate to more serious cases, the tissue that forms endometriosis can physically get in the way of the egg being fertilized by the sperm. Nearly 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis.

Women who have endometriosis are more likely to have other hormonal conditions, like progesterone deficiency, which can also affect fertility, and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

However, according to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, it’s also only about 40% of people diagnosed with endometriosis who experience some degree of infertility. More than that, even women who are diagnosed with infertility can often naturally conceive – and infertility diagnosis only has to do with how long you’ve been trying, not whether or not you’re able to conceive. 

Should my endometriosis affect how I track my cycle?

Endometriosis doesn’t alter the pattern of your cycle, though it may give you longer-running or heavier periods, or you may experience bleeding in between periods which can make it confusing to tell when one period ends and another begins. If you do experience bleeding in between your periods, it’s worth noting them along with the normal stops and starts of your menstrual cycle so that you can get a clearer picture of your cycle. 

If you have mild to moderate endometriosis and are trying to conceive naturally, you can help to try to keep the endometrial tissue from growing and spreading so fast by keeping estrogen levels relatively low. Regular exercise can help with this, and so can eating whole grains and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Women who aren’t trying to conceive often use hormonal treatments, including birth control, to control estrogen levels and slow the spread of endometriosis.

If you’re having a lot of trouble conceiving naturally, or even are experiencing infertility, which happens when you’re unable to conceive naturally after trying for 12 months (6 months for women 35 and older), a healthcare provider might suggest surgically removing the endometriosis tissue to help you conceive naturally more easily. On the other hand, they might suggest trying in vitro fertilization, especially if the endometriosis is more severe.

  • “Endometriosis, fertility, and pregnancy.” The National Endometriosis Society, September 2008. Web.
  • “Conditions: Female Infertility.” HopkinsMedicine. Johns Hopkins Health Services, 2016. Web.
  • Jessica R. Brown. “Endometriosis and infertility: what you need to know.” Resolve. National Infertility Association, Winter 2012. Web.
  • Carlo Bulletti, Maria Elisabetta Coccia, Silvia Battistoni, Andrea Borini. “Endometriosis and infertility.” J Assist Reprod Genet. 27(8): 441–447. Web. August 2010.
  • “FAQ: Endometriosis.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, October 2012. Web.
  • “Endometriosis.” Resolve. The National Infertility Association, 2016. Web. 
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