Endometriosis occurs when cells similar to those that line the uterus grow elsewhere in the body. It can cause chronic pelvic pain and a variety of other symptoms. But what is the link between endometriosis and pregnancy?
Becoming pregnant may be more difficult for women with endometriosis. However, many women with endometriosis do get pregnant and have healthy babies.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Endometriosis Symptoms?
Pregnancy has different effects on each woman with endometriosis. Some women may find that becoming pregnant relieves their endometriosis symptoms, as they will no longer be having periods.
Raised levels of the hormone progesteroneduring pregnancy may also improve symptoms.
Research has found that progestin, which is a synthetic version of progesterone, reduces endometriosis pain for around 90 percent of women. Progestin is a standard treatment for endometriosis.
The body’s natural progesterone may have similar effects to progestin for some women, but not everyone with endometriosis finds that their symptoms improve during pregnancy.
In fact, pregnancy can worsen some women’s endometriosis symptoms. This may be due to the growing uterus putting extra pressure or traction on existing areas of endometriosis.
Another factor that may worsen endometriosis symptoms during pregnancy is a rise in the hormone estrogen, which can encourage more endometriosis lesions to develop.
Even if pregnancy does provide relief, the symptoms of endometriosis are likely to return once a woman’s periods start again after pregnancy, although breast-feeding can delay this further.
A 2018 review states that women should not think of pregnancy as a strategy for managing or treating endometriosis. Pregnancy will not cure endometriosis.
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