Have you been trying to fall pregnant for the past year with no luck? You could be among the one in 10 Australian women of reproductive age living with endometriosis.
Symptoms can be very different between different women and girls, which may be part of the reason endometriosis is so difficult to diagnose. Despite being common, it takes an average of seven to 12 years for someone to be diagnosed.
Read on to find out more about endometriosis, how it can affect conception and pregnancy, as well as tips for women with the condition looking to start a family.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus, often in places like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel and bladder. Symptoms can include painful periods, pain between periods, pain during and after sex, and discomfort when using your bowel or bladder. But symptoms can vary greatly, and many women with endometriosis don’t have any symptoms.
For a long time, period pain has been accepted as a normal part of life, but for many women it could be a sign of something more serious.
Can you get pregnant with endometriosis?
Endometriosis may have a direct effect on the tubes and ovaries by causing scar tissue in and around these areas, restricting movement during ovulation and conception. The disease may also affect the quality of egg production and the way the new embryo settles into the uterine lining to start growing. This means that about 30 percent of women with endometriosis will have trouble getting pregnant. But although it can be more difficult, most women with endometriosis are able to have children.
The effect of endometriosis on pregnancy
Most women will have healthy pregnancies and babies without complications. Sometimes symptoms improve during pregnancy as a result of changes to hormones, but this may only be temporary.
If you suffer from endometriosis and are struggling to conceive, book in to see your GP or gynaecologist for a check-up. They’ll be able to do a full examination and discuss your options with you.
A safe pregnancy and delivery
Endometriosis has been linked to an increased risk of some complications. For example, women with endometriosis are more likely to have a baby born before 37 weeks. There is also a slightly higher than average risk of bleeding in the third trimester.
If you’re pregnant and have endometriosis, it’s important to:
- Inform your GP, gynaecologist and all other specialists of your condition
- Follow the cycle of scans, screenings and check-ups assigned by your team of specialists.
Need a little extra support?
Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service
Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice.
Medibank has partnered with Monash University to create OptimalMe, a research program designed to help mums-to-be optimise their health before they conceive. The program features tailored health and wellbeing tips and personal guidance on fitness and nutrition.
If you’re planning to have a baby in the next 12 months you may be eligible to take part. Find out more here
Eligible members with hospital cover can now talk to a member of our Health Concierge team for advice on fertility and guidance on how to have a healthy pregnancy, at no extra cost on 1800 789 414. #