How Endometriosis Affects Fertility and Pregnancy
In our endometriosis series we have talked about endometriosis and its symptoms as well as the effects endometriosis has on the menstrual cycle. In this article we continue the discussion on how endometriosis proceeds to affect fertility and then pregnancy.
It is important to note that there is help available and that it is possible for women with endometriosis to fall pregnant, carry full term and have healthy babies. Sometimes this involves IVF or other forms of medical assistance, and sometimes it doesn’t. It is best to educate yourself of your condition and the options possible to you.
In our previous endometriosis post we explained that from a TCM perspective people experience endometriosis as a result of not ovulating regularly. They do not ovulate consistently because of the dominance of oestrogen in their system and their cycle.
Effects on Fertility
There are a few ways that endometriosis can affect fertility. All connect to the fact that people with endometriosis are not ovulating often. Without ovulation there is no egg to fertilise and become an embryo.
Beyond that, endometriosis equals oestrogen dominance. This means the uterine lining is not cleaned out efficiently, causing inflammation and other symptoms. The health and integrity of the uterus is then harmed which can prevent pregnancy.
Finally, endometriosis causes inflammation in the reproductive organs. This can cause swelling and scarring in vital areas such as ovaries and fallopian tubes making it hard for eggs to develop and travel for fertilisation. The inflammation also causes a hostile environment for eggs and sperm making falling pregnant not only difficult but risky.
The good news is there are treatment options to help with endometriosis and increase pregnancy chances.
As endometriosis is a chronic condition, flare ups happen. Between these flare ups it’s possible to become pregnant, even if unlikely. The endometriosis that has built up can prevent the pregnancy from holding, especially as there is less progesterone in the body to sustain it. Miscarriages are common for people with endometriosis.
This is why some level of preplanning is beneficial for people with endometriosis. Receiving treatment before conceiving can improve the results of having a healthy pregnancy.
Every person with endometriosis reacts differently to pregnancy. Some improve or have no signs of the disease; others go on exactly the same or even worsen.
At AcuNatural Health we like to look holistically at the problem. We know that someone with endometriosis has inflammation and growing a baby in that environment can have consequences for their development.
Endometriosis and Oestrogen Dominance
As endometriosis is an oestrogen dominant disease, there are certain issues that arise. For instance, people with endometriosis are low in progesterone and thus zinc deficient. One feature of zinc is that it helps clean the body of high copper levels. Many women with endometriosis then also have high copper levels.
Some effects of high copper levels include:
High cortisol levels
Anxiety and agitation
Insomnia and other sleep issues
High copper levels and low zinc levels can also affect the foetus. Until their immune systems have developed, zinc is what protects babies’ health. Not only can their immunity be compromised but these levels of zinc and copper can lead to diagnoses of ADD/ADHD, skin sensitivities and allergies.
There is also the possibility the hormonal imbalances can impact the future hormone health of the child. Some evidence suggests endometriosis might have a genetic element to it.
The best course of action is to seek treatment for endometriosis before trying to get pregnant. This not only gives us time to work on areas to improve fertility, but work on egg quality and the uterine environment to make hosting a pregnancy more efficient and healthy.
At the same time we can work to balance your hormones, managing the oestrogen and boosting your body’s progesterone. This combined with other techniques of TCM can also address copper and zinc levels, reducing risks during pregnancy.
That being said, we also offer acupuncture for women during their pregnancy. This can help with symptoms such as nausea, digestive issues, fatigue, sleep, headaches etc. The acupuncture can also help reduce inflammation which will benefit both mother and the development of the baby.
Acupuncture in the third trimester in particular can help with preparing the body for labour and recovering postpartum. We have an article dedicated to the importance of the postnatal period of the pregnancy and how we can help.
Endo isn’t the End of Fertility
Many people with endometriosis experience infertility and difficulty falling pregnant. It does not mean that getting pregnant is impossible. Seeking help for endometriosis and infertility can help you achieve your dream.