Endometriosis and pregnancy

The difficulty of becoming pregnant with endometriosis is what dominates most conversations about pregnancy and endometriosis, but some evidence suggests that the effect endometriosis has on pregnancy doesn’t end at conception. On the other hand, in some cases it’s not just endometriosis having an effect on pregnancy – sometimes, pregnancy has an effect on endometriosis, too. So, how does pregnancy interact with endometriosis?

Risks of pregnancy with endometriosis

Evidence about how endometriosis changes pregnancy is contradictory, and endometriosis-specific pregnancy risks have been researched and reevaluated off and on pretty regularly since 2009. Some studies suggest that endometriosis during pregnancy carries a greater risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and preterm birth.

A recent review of evidence from 1950 to 2015 determined that placenta previa, a condition that causes the placenta to grow over the cervix instead of around the top of the uterus, is more significant in pregnant women with diagnosed endometriosis. Placenta previa can cause increased bleeding during delivery or lead to a preterm delivery by C-section. Some studies have also found that pregnant women with diagnosed endometriosis are at an increased risk of preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). 

Finally, it’s worth noting that many women with endometriosis conceive through the use of fertility treatments, which in and of themselves carry risks for pregnancy outcomes. For example, babies who are conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are slightly more at risk for being born with a low birth weight.  

Endometriosis symptoms during pregnancy

Endometriosis doesn’t necessarily help out a pregnancy, but pregnancy can help with endometriosis. In the same way that hormonal treatments can help to treat endometriosis symptoms, the hormones released in the body during pregnancy can limit or even temporarily end endometriosis symptoms.

Some women even continue to experience relief from endometriosis symptoms throughout pregnancy. However, not all women experience this reprieve, and pregnancy does not cure endometriosis.

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  • Center for Endometriosis Care. “Endometriosis and Pregnancy at a Glance.” HormonesMatter. Lucine Health Sciences, November 9 2015. Web.
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  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Placenta Previa.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, May 9 2014. Web.
  • N. Conti, et al. “Women with endometriosis at first pregnancy have an increased risk of adverse obstetric outcome.” J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 28(15):1795-8. Web. Oct 9 2014. 
  • T. Harada, et al. “Obstetrical Complications in Women with Endometriosis: A Cohort Study in Japan.” journals.plos.org. Japan Environment & Children’s Study Group, Dec 22 2016. Web. 
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