Overcoming Infertility in Endometriosis

Researchers have associated endometriosis with infertility for years — a logical connection because 35 to 50 percent of infertile women also have endometriosis. However, new research into the causes of infertility in endometriosis shows that some women with endometriosis lack the molecules that allow embryos to attach to the uterine lining. Obviously, if the embryo can't attach, this problem prevents pregnancy even though fertilization may occur.

This study also indicates that some genes in the uterus of endometriosis patients appear to function abnormally. As a result, infertility in endometrio-sis patients appears to be much more complicated than originally thought. Infertility isn't just the result of blocked fallopian tubes or other mechanical factors. The uterine lining may also have an inherent defect that prevents pregnancy.

For women with severe infertility problems related to endometriosis, embryo freezing can be a godsend. Eggs can be taken during an egg retrieval cycle and fertilized with the partner's sperm. The embryos produced this way can be stored for many years until the time is right for a pregnancy. This process can help those women who may lose their eggs over time due to endometrio-sis. Embryo freezing may also allow women to wait for better treatments for endometriosis to be developed in the future. In rare cases, these frozen embryos can be implanted into another woman without the disease, which allows the affected woman to have a child with her own genes even if she has lost her uterus because of endometriosis. Oocyte (egg) freezing (cryopreserv-ing just the unfertilized egg; more research is being done in this area) may be a viable alternative for women with endometriosis who don't have a partner, and will have the same benefits as embryo freezing.

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