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Treatments for Infertility Related to Endometriosis

In most cases, health care providers will recommend laparoscopy to remove or vaporize the growths as a way to also improve fertility in women who have mild or minimal endometriosis.6 Although studies show improved pregnancy rates following this type of surgery, the success rate is not clear.

If pregnancy does not occur after laparoscopic treatment, in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be the best option to improve fertility. Taking any other hormonal therapy usually used for endometriosis-associated pain will only suppress ovulation and delay pregnancy. Performing another laparoscopy is not the preferred approach to improving fertility unless symptoms of pain prevent undergoing IVF. Multiple surgeries, especially those that remove cysts from the ovaries, may reduce ovarian function and hamper the success of IVF.6

IVF makes it possible to combine sperm and eggs in a laboratory to make an embryo. Then the resulting embryos are placed into the woman's uterus. IVF is one type of assisted reproductive technology that may be an option for women and families affected by infertility related to endometriosis.

In general, the process of IVF involves the following steps. First, a woman takes hormones to cause "superovulation," which triggers her body to produce many eggs at one time. Once mature, the eggs are collected from the woman, using a probe inserted into the vagina and guided by ultrasound. The collected eggs are placed in a dish for fertilization with a man's sperm. The fertilized cells are then placed in an incubator, a machine that keeps them warm and allows them to develop into embryos. After 3 to 5 days, the embryos are transferred to the woman's uterus. It takes about 2 weeks to know if the process is successful.

Even though the use of hormones in IVF is successful in treating infertility related to endometriosis, other forms of hormone therapy are not as successful. For instance, ACOG does not recommend using oral contraceptive pills or GnRH agonists to treat endometriosis-related infertility. The use of these hormonal agents prevents ovulation and delays pregnancy.2,9

In addition, the hormones used during IVF do not cure the endometriosis lesions, which means that pain may recur after pregnancy and that not all women with endometriosis are able to become pregnant with IVF. Researchers are still looking for hormone treatments for infertility due to endometriosis.


Reference: National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development

Last updated April 20, 2017

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