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I’m 19 and I’ve just been diagnosed with endometriosis. I know I want to have kids in the future, but I’m still pretty young and don’t have a partner. I’m wondering how this could impact my future fertility in terms of the different treatment options? What should I be considering if I’d like to have a child in the future?

Written by our medical expert Dr. Beth Taylor, co-founder and co-director of Olive Fertility Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Endometriosis is a typically painful condition caused by the uterine lining (called endometrium) being located outside the uterus. These patches of uterine lining can be on the bowel, bladder, and around the uterus, ovaries and tubes. Endometriosis is fueled by estrogen so it affects women until the menopause when estrogen production slows and stops. Not only can endometriosis cause pain but it can also make it harder to get pregnant.

Left untreated about 1/3rd  of the time it gets worse, 1/3rd of the time is stays the same and 1/3rd of the time it goes away on it’s own. It’s a mysterious condition! Since it is going to stick with you or get worse 2/3rds  of the time, it’s worth thinking about what it might mean for your future. Endometriosis starts mild (stage 1) and gets worse (stage 3-4). The higher the stage of endometriosis the harder it is to get pregnant, so it is good to do something to keep your endometriosis away, or at least prevent it from getting worse.

At 19, if you have been diagnosed with endometriosis it’s likely because you have pain. The treatment of painful endometriosis is usually with medications that suppress your estrogen levels such as progesterone, the birth control pill, Mirena IUD, etc.  Suppressing your estrogen levels can help keep endometriosis from advancing. This is the best thing for you to do to preserve your fertility.

Sometimes endometriosis is treated by surgery. While surgery can help get rid of endometriosis, it can come back, so I would still suggest medication to suppress your estrogen level after the surgery. If you already know your endometriosis is severe (i.e. stage 3 or 4) you should consider freezing your eggs now as very severe endometriosis can damage your eggs, making it hard or impossible to become pregnant with your eggs in the future.

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