How Gestational Surrogacy Can Help in Endometriosis Related Infertility
Endometriosis affects many women and more often leads to infertility issues due to the abnormal growth of uterine tissues. The severity in certain circumstances may even prompt a hysterectomy and complete removal of the womb. Thankfully, women who have endometriosis and are unable to carry their baby, have the option of choosing gestational surrogacy using their own eggs to have a biological child.
What is more concerning, is that endometriosis is a common health condition and affects around 2 to 10% of US women between the ages of 25 and 40 and can lead to many problems in women. Another estimate shows that presently, about 11% of women in the US are suffering from endometriosis. That’s around 6.5 million women, and this may even be a smaller estimate since not all women report their fertility problems.
In this article, we will discuss endometriosis and its risks extensively, and explore gestational surrogacy as a solution to overcome infertility.Schedule A Consultation
What is endometriosis?
In Endometriosis, abnormal lesions are formed on the tissues lining with the uterus, known as the endometrium, and can also be found outside of the uterus. These lesions influence hormone production like the endometrium does, i.e., they swell up and shed every month. However, as these are unable to leave the body, they lead to inflammation and pain. In more severe cases, these lesions can hamper a woman’s pregnancy chances.
Moreover, the blood trapped in the ovaries due to endometriosis can develop into cysts, which are very painful and can make it difficult to conceive.
But then again, the severity of endometriosis can vary from patient to patient, so endometriosis may or may not have an impact on a woman’s quality of life or her fertility.
Where it occurs
The unusual growths may be detected throughout the entire pelvis area, including:
- The ovaries
- The fallopian tubes
- Ligaments that support the uterus (uterosacral ligaments)
- The posterior cul-de-sac (the space between the uterus and rectum)
- The anterior cul-de-sac (the space between the uterus and bladder)
- The outer surface of the uterus
- The lining of the pelvic cavity
Other places where endometriosis occurs rarely:
- The intestines
- The rectum
- The bladder
- The vagina
- The cervix
- The vulva
- Abdominal surgery scars
Although symptoms vary from patient to patient, one of the most common signs of endometriosis is severe pain, which may be felt at different parts of the body and with different intensities. Other common signs to be forewarned are
1. Severe menstrual cramps
Period pain is another common complaint reported by women with endometriosis. This is in addition to the high level of discomfort women experience during their period.
If a woman realizes that her cramp pains are more intense than what she regards as normal, chances are that she is suffering from endometriosis.
Women with endometriosis may also find that their cramps become more severe with time.
Chronic pain in your pelvis or lower back can also be a sign of endometriosis. This pain can go away, but it often comes back in those two areas.
2. Painful intercourse
One endometriosis symptom that can pose a concern for fertility is pain after or during sexual intercourse.
Women with endometriosis say they felt very deep pain. Unlike pain from penetrative sex, this pain doesn’t always occur close to the entrance of the vagina.
These women also report having intestinal pain, which may get worse with each bowel movement. Also, pain during urination can also be linked with endometriosis.
3. Heavy or irregular periods
Another common symptom of endometriosis is spotting or bleeding when you are not menstruating. It is recommended that you get tested if you observe spotting or bleeding outside your period, as it may be due to another condition (not endometriosis).
If you have this condition, you may notice blood in your urine and stools.
4. Difficulty getting pregnant
Difficulty getting pregnant is also a symptom of endometriosis. Infertility is a common symptom of this condition. If you think you may be unable to conceive, then you need to go to a fertility clinic near you for tests.
For individuals or couples trying to conceive, endometriosis can make getting pregnant and staying pregnant hard or appear impossible.
Fertility doctors won’t recommend trying for a baby when you have endometriosis. Most will advise that you look for a surrogate if the condition is critical or cannot be resolved.
5. Other discomforts
Lastly, you may also have digestive problems, such as nausea, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation during menstruation.
What Health Problems Can Result from Endometriosis?
Although cancer cells are those with uncontrolled growth, this is not the case with endometriosis. Fortunately, endometriosis growths are noncancerous as the tissue eventually stops growing. Moreover, endometriosis cells don’t compete with healthy cells for resources or move to other parts of the body to infect organs as cancer cells do.
But while they are not cancerous themselves, endometriosis can result in several health problems that can affect fertility.
The tissue may become inflamed and bleed like the tissue lining the uterus tissue does during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Due to this swelling, endometriosis can lead to severe health issues, including chronic pain.
Hinder normal functions of fallopian tube
Endometrial tissue may cover the fallopian tubes and prevent them from working properly. It may also develop inside the ovaries.
Another health issue that can result from endometriosis is inflammation of the womb and the surrounding area. This inflammation and endometriosis itself can lead to the formation of scar tissue or adhesions, which cause your internal organs to stick together.
Hence, it is very likely to experience infertility or at least find it extremely difficult to get pregnant. This is the reason why women with endometriosis may eventually want to pursue surrogacy in order to actualize their dreams of becoming a parent.
Endometriosis can also result in bladder and intestinal issues like constipation. However, if these issues persist, they may cause severe damage to your digestive system. Your kidneys and liver may also be put under stress and can get inflamed too.
Who Is at Risk of Having Endometriosis?
Although endometriosis is more common in women of 30 to 40, any woman or even a young girl who menstruates can have it.
There are some risk factors that can show you are more likely to develop endometriosis than other people. For instance, research has shown that women who have never had children are at higher risk of having endometriosis compared to other women.
In some cases, endometriosis may be the reason why you have not had a baby in the first place.
However, pregnancy itself is shown to stop the growth of endometrial tissues, caused by a hormone rush in the womb following childbirth. In essence, pregnancy can be like an auto-regulating process that makes sure the tissue in the uterus is of the right size.
Longer menstrual cycle
Women who have prolonged menstrual periods may also be more likely to develop endometriosis. This usually indicates that you have tissue extending beyond the uterus. Since this tissue also swells up during periods, it can cause menstruation to last a bit longer than expected.
On the other hand, a woman who has a shorter period (i.e., 27 days or less) can also be more likely to develop endometriosis. You can experience a shorter menstrual cycle if your menses come more frequently instead of every 3 to 4 weeks.
Genetics can play a big part in determining your risk of developing endometriosis. You are at a higher risk of developing endometriosis if your sister, aunt, mother, or grandma has or had the condition.
Lastly, you are more likely to have the condition if you have had a medical issue that impacts your menstrual flow. Your risk of developing endometriosis increases if you don’t experience a normal flow during your period.
However, all these conditions can also be a sign of another health issue related to the menstrual cycle. So, if you experience any of these, it’s important to consult your fertility specialist close to you to get yourself tested for endometriosis, especially if you are trying to become pregnant.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Although a lot of studies have been conducted on endometriosis, the actual cause of the condition remains unknown. Research has, however, shown that there are some factors or conditions that can increase the risk of developing endometriosis.
Backward menstrual flow
One of the greatest risk factors that can suggest that you may have endometriosis is retrograde menstrual flow. It occurs when the menstrual blood flows back towards the fallopian tubes rather than outside the tubes during a menstrual cycle.
This backflow of blood also comes with tissue that would have been shed and lost during menses.
Since this tissue passes through the fallopian tubes, it may get trapped inside it. As retrograde menstrual flow continues, the tissue continues to extend to other areas of the body, like the ovaries and the pelvis.
Because women whose mothers had endometriosis usually have it, a lot of researchers think that the condition may have a genetic factor.
There is probably a gene that makes cells produce more tissue than needed inside the womb or cause conditions, such as retrograde menstrual flow, to happen, resulting in endometriosis.
Researchers also claim that a problem with the immune system issue can also cause endometriosis.
Normally, the immune system attacks any tissue that is developing outside of the womb and destroys it. Any condition or disorder that reduces the immune system’s ability to do this important function may lead to endometriosis.
This cause carries significant weight because researchers found that women suffering from endometriosis also have immune disorders and certain cancers.
Fertility hormones can be another contributing factor behind endometriosis formation. Researchers have found that estrogen and many other hormones can contribute to endometriosis.
As a matter of fact, the risk of developing endometriosis was found to be higher in women who produce excessive amounts of estrogen. Hence, some researchers think that hormonal imbalance may cause endometriosis.
Lastly, many researchers think that some surgeries conducted on the abdomen can lead to endometriosis.
Surgeries, such as a hysterectomy or Cesarean-section, can cause endometriosis. If you gave birth with C-section and want to have a baby, you may still have endometriosis which can make it difficult for you to conceive again.
This surgery can lead to endometriosis if it disrupts some tissues from the area during the operation. This displaced tissue may fall inside the womb and block the ovaries or result in other problems.
Since endometriosis does not have an exact cause, prevention may be difficult and for women who are genetically predisposed to endometriosis, it is very hard if not impossible). But there are many ways you can reduce your risk of having endometriosis at some point in your life.
Basically, the core of endometriosis prevention is balancing the level of estrogen in the body.
However, because estrogen is needed to prepare the womb to grow and develop babies, women who want to conceive naturally may not wish to change their estrogen levels.
Take contraceptive pills
There are many different ways to lower the level of estrogen in your body. One of them is by using contraceptive pills or patches. But while these birth control methods help lower the amount of estrogen, they also reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Exercise has also been associated with a reduced estrogen level. Women need to have at least four hours of exercise per week. Aside from promoting your general health, it will also help reduce the amount of estrogen in your body.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine
Also, research has shown that alcohol can raise estrogen levels in the body. So, you need to reduce the amount of alcohol you take per day to lower your risk of developing endometriosis.
Caffeinated drinks, such as green tea, coffee, or sodas, can also increase the amount of estrogen in your body, promoting the development of endometriosis.
Endometriosis and fertility treatment options
You may pass through a lot of physical and emotional turmoil if you have endometriosis and are trying to have a baby. Apart from being very painful, endometriosis itself can make trying to get pregnant naturally difficult. Even if you are able to conceive, there is no guarantee that you will carry the baby to full term.
A common option women consider when suffering from endometriosis is IVF (in vitro fertilization). This excellent option enables women who are having trouble getting pregnant to have children. During IVF, some healthy eggs are removed from the intended mother and placed in a petri dish, where they are fertilized with the male partner’s sperm. The resulting embryo is transferred to the intended mother’s womb.
But many fertility experts don’t recommend this option for women with endometriosis. The reason is that endometriosis can make the uterus inhabitable for the fetus even if conception occurred.
In such cases, IVF combined with surrogacy can significantly increase the success rate for women suffering from endometriosis related infertility. After fertilization has taken place, the embryo is transferred into the surrogate’s womb instead, where it implants and grows.
Moreover, women with endometriosis may develop a condition known as pre-eclampsia after undergoing IVF to have babies. A study suggested that women suffering from endometriosis were more likely to have pre-eclampsia. This may cause hypertension (high blood pressure), which can be dangerous when expecting a baby. You may also experience pain in your lower ribs and facial swelling.
In a different study, researchers found that women with endometriosis who conceived have a higher risk of developing placenta previa – a condition that makes the placenta to be placed low in the uterus. The displaced placenta may then cover the cervix, causing serious problems for both the mother and her baby during delivery.
A study also reported that women who have endometriosis but got pregnant have a higher chance of giving birth to a premature baby. And remember that a lot of premature babies do have congenital defects or other issues.
Hence, women with endometriosis need to think twice before trying to get pregnant with IVF.
To overcome these risks, it is safer to resort to surrogacy using a Gestational Surrogate to help you carry the baby when you are suffering from this condition. This will also give the intended mother the chance to get treated for her endometriosis and enjoy a better quality of life while the child safely develops in another woman’s womb.
Advantages of gestational surrogacy for women with endometriosis
The reasons why gestational surrogacy is highly recommended for fertility issues such as endometriosis is because:
- A gestational carrier is thoroughly pre-screened and only accepted when stringent procedures clear her as physically and psychologically healthy. This means the surrogate mother is perfectly ready to carry a successful pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby without complications.
- Secondly, in gestational surrogacy, the genetic material of the baby comes from the Intended Parents as it is their sperm and eggs used to create the embryo and not of the gestational carrier. The baby is in no way genetically related to the surrogate mother.
- The success rate of surrogacy is near 75% and that percentage increases to 95% once the surrogate is pregnant.
Combined with all these factors, it is clear why gestational surrogacy presents the safest and most successful option to fulfill your parenthood dreams.
If you are trying to become parents but are dealing with endometriosis, we recommend that you consider having a gestational surrogate carry your baby as it will be far safer for you and the baby. Plus, you will be able to focus on treating the condition and relieving your symptoms while your ‘bundle of joy” safely develops in your surrogate’s womb.
At Physician’s Surrogacy, we carefully evaluate each surrogate’s health as well as her background and medical history before they accepting and matching them. Our surrogates are all already medically screened and ready to help you build your family.
All it takes is a simple complimentary consultation to get started.Schedule A Consultation