About Endometriosis & Pregnancy
Endometriosis is a commonly occurring disorder in women in which the uterine tissue, known as endometrium, starts to grow outside of the uterine cavity, or the uterus. This tissue can begin to grow and spread to the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and of course, outside of the uterus itself. The growth of the tissue outside of the uterus can cause these affected organs to get blocked, damaged, or get irritated. Since the ovaries and the fallopian tubes are all an integral part of the reproductive system, it becomes difficult for women suffering from endometriosis to become pregnant. If they do conceive, then endometriosis often makes it difficult to sustain the pregnancy. In this situation, the age of the woman, overall health, and the severity of the condition comes into play to determine the chances of actually carrying a baby to full term.
There are many studies that have shown that woman who suffer from endometriosis have only a 2 to 10 percent chance each month of conceiving. Knowing what endometriosis is and learning about dealing with endometriosis during pregnancy can help in every way. The most common sign and symptoms of endometriosis include abdominal pain, painful intercourse, severe menstrual cramps, heavy menstrual bleeding, and fatigue, amongst others.
Dealing with Endometriosis During Pregnancy
Let us understand how endometriosis during pregnancy affects women. Most women having endometriosis during pregnancy, can actually breathe a sigh of relief as the period of pregnancy brings a temporary halt to the painful menstrual cycles and heavy bleeding. It is believed that the increasing levels of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy is responsible for suppressing and even shrinking the endometrial growths in the body. This is in line with the typical treatment for endometriosis, wherein doctors prescribed progestin (a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone) to treat the condition.
However, many women find no relief or improvement. In fact, for many women, the symptoms of endometriosis actually worsens during pregnancy as the uterus expands with the growing baby, pulling and stretching the misplaced endometrial tissue. This can cause severe to moderate discomfort and pain. It is also believed that an increase in the levels of estrogen actually boosts the endometrial growth. Dealing with endometriosis during pregnancy can be truly challenging for some women.
As each woman is different, everyone experiences pregnancy in a different manner. The same is true for pregnant women suffering from endometriosis. The level of hormone production during pregnancy, the severity of your condition, and the way in which your body responds to the pregnancy, all determine how you will end up feeling while being pregnant.
For women who experience an improvement in their symptoms during pregnancy, it is only a short-lived relief as after the birth of the child, the symptoms come back, often worse than before. Breastfeeding may cause a delay in the return of the symptoms, but again, after women stop breastfeeding, the symptoms also often return.
Treatments to Deal With Endometriosis During Pregnancy
There are many treatment options for endometriosis but some of the commonest ones are not viable for pregnant women. Surgery and hormonal therapy are some of those. However, there are other options in medical treatment that can help in dealing with endometriosis during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and are experiencing pain from endometriosis, then you can try taking some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. However, do consult your doctor about which of these pain relievers are safe to use during pregnancy and for how long.
Other simple remedies that can help in dealing with endometriosis during pregnancy include:
- Take warm baths
- Use a hot water bag on the abdomen or back to get relief from pain
- Eat foods that are rich in fiber so that you reduce the risk of constipation
- Indulge in some prenatal yoga so that it stretches your back, providing relief from back pain caused by endometriosis
- Walk or do light exercises for stretching can help fight pain and gain hormonal control
Women having endometriosis often struggle with conception. Conceiving and having a healthy baby is very much possible with endometriosis. Keep in mind that endometriosis during pregnancy is considered to be a high-risk pregnancy and needs regular monitoring. While some tips on dealing with endometriosis during pregnancy help, seeking medical opinion for any concern is equally important.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018). Endometriosis. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/endometriosis
- Endometriosis Foundation of America. (n.d.). Pregnancy and Endometriosis. https://www.endofound.org/pregnancy-endometriosis
- Mayo Clinic. (2020). Endometriosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656
- Women’s Health Concern. (2021). Endometriosis and pregnancy. https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/infertility-endometriosis-pregnancy/
- Endometriosis: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment
- How Does Mirena Help Treat Endometriosis?
- Can Endometriosis Go Away On It’s Own?
- What Will Happen If Endometriosis Is Not Treated?
- What Not To Eat With Endometriosis?
- What is the Best Way to Treat Endometriosis?
- 12 Home Remedies To Manage Endometriosis Symptoms