March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

Does endometriosis affect egg quality? What are the chances of success for endometriosis patients using donor eggs? Learn more in this blog!

Did you know that endometriosis affects approximately 1 in 10 women of reproductive age?(1) In this blog, we explore the correlation between endometriosis, infertility and egg quality. 

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus – typically in the pelvis, fallopian tubes and around the ovaries.

The misplaced tissue responds to the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle each month, leading to inflammation, swelling, and scarring of the normal tissue surrounding the affected areas. This can cause pain, cramps, heavier periods, and other symptoms. However, it’s estimated that 20 to 25 percent of endometriosis patients are asymptomatic (2), known as silent endometriosis. In cases of silent endometriosis, women may not discover their diagnosis until they are experiencing unexplained infertility.

Endometriosis and Infertility

Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of female infertility – studies show that up to 50% of women with endometriosis struggle to conceive. Although the correlation between infertility and endometriosis is not clearly understood, possible causes include:

  • Diminished quantity and quality of eggs, known as low ovarian reserve.
  • Endometriomas, blood-filled cysts which can be toxic to the ovaries and reduce the number of good quality eggs.
  • Blockage of the fallopian tubes, which can prevent the transfer of the egg from the ovary to the uterus.
  • Inflammatory reactions in the pelvis can damage the ovaries or the follicles, creating an environment that makes it difficult for an embryo to thrive.

Endometriosis and Egg Quality

How exactly does endometriosis cause infertility? It likely has to do with egg quality rather than implantation, meaning IVF using donor eggs may be a good option for women with endometriosis. Studies have concluded that infertility in endometriosis patients is most likely due to the effect the disease has on ooctye or embryo quality rather than implantation.

Endometriosis and Donor Egg Success 

Do recipient patients with endometriosis have success with donor eggs? Yes, women with endometriosis have fairly high success rates when they undergo IVF using donor eggs from a woman who does not have endometriosis. Studies show that the presence of endometriosis in a donor egg recipient does not lower implantation or pregnancy rates. (4)

Pursuing Pregnancy Using Donor Eggs

Depending on the severity, it may be advised for women with endometriosis to use donor eggs to pursue a pregnancy. Deciding to use donor eggs is an emotional journey, and it’s not the path anyone envisions when they first begin trying for a baby. If you are coping with a diagnosis of endometriosis and considering using donor eggs, we encourage you to take advantage of all the resources that are available to you, such as reading heartfelt experiences from other women who have gone through similar journeys. If you are interested in discussing your situation and exploring your options, our team is always here to help.  

For more information on endometriosis treatment and support, visit the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

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