The main complication of endometriosis is impaired fertility. Approximately one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant.
For pregnancy to occur, an egg must be released from an ovary, travel through the neighboring fallopian tube, become fertilized by a sperm cell and attach itself to the uterine wall to begin development. Endometriosis may obstruct the tube and keep the egg and sperm from uniting. But the condition also seems to affect fertility in less-direct ways, such as damage to the sperm or egg.
Even so, many women with mild to moderate endometriosis can still conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. Doctors sometimes advise women with endometriosis not to delay having children because the condition may worsen with time.
Ovarian cancer does occur at higher than expected rates in women with endometriosis. But the overall lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is low to begin with. Some studies suggest that endometriosis increases that risk, but it's still relatively low. Although rare, another type of cancer — endometriosis-associated adenocarcinoma — can develop later in life in women who have had endometriosis
April 02, 2013
- Endometriosis. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.html. Accessed March 5, 2013.
- Schenken RS. Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis of endometriosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 5, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecological problems FAQ013. Endometriosis. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq013.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130305T1348596508. Accessed March 5, 2013.
- Pain management of endometriosis. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/About_ACOG/News_Room/News_Releases/2010/Pain_Management_of_Endometriosis. Accessed March 5, 2013.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 114: Management of endometriosis. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010;116:223.
- What is assisted reproductive technology? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/art/index.htm. Accessed March 5, 2013.
- Schenken RS. Overview of the treatment of endometriosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 5, 2013.
- Schrager S, et al. Evaluation and treatment of endometriosis. American Family Physician. 2012;87:107.
- Pearce CL, et al. Association between endometriosis and risk of histological subtypes of ovarian cancer: A pooled analysis of case-control studies. The Lancet Oncology. 2012;13:385.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 8, 2013.
- Bakkum-Gamez JN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 13, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.