Endometriosis – how does it affect fertility and pregnancy?

Samantha Wild
Clinical Lead for Women's Health and Bupa GP
08 February 2024
Next review due February 2027

If you have endometriosis, you may be all too familiar with the symptoms that can come with it. These can range from heavy, painful periods to ongoing pain in your pelvis. But often, people first become aware of endometriosis when they experience fertility problems. This can be one of the most distressing endometriosis symptoms of all.

Here I’ll aim to answer common questions about endometriosis, fertility and pregnancy.

A woman eating breakfast

Can you still be fertile if you have endometriosis?

Having endometriosis can mean you’re more likely to have difficulties getting pregnant. The good news is that most people with endometriosis are still able to get pregnant. It may take a bit longer than normal. But some people with endometriosis do find that they’re unable to conceive naturally.

Why can endometriosis cause infertility?

When you have endometriosis, tissue that normally lines your womb (the endometrial tissue) starts to grow in other areas of your pelvis. These can include your ovaries and lower bowel.

It’s not entirely clear why endometriosis can sometimes cause infertility. But if the endometrial tissue is growing around your ovaries and fallopian tubes, this may cause damage that affects how well they work. Even mild endometriosis can affect your fertility.

Are there treatments for infertility caused by endometriosis?

There isn’t one definite, proven treatment for infertility caused by endometriosis. But there are various options you might be able to try. See your GP and they can refer you to a fertility specialist. They can talk to you about fertility treatment options. These include:

  • keyhole surgery to remove or destroy the endometrial tissue
  • assisted reproductive techniques, like In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

Different options will suit different people better. The best option for you will depend on many things. That could include:

  • how severe your endometriosis is
  • how old you are
  • whether there is anything else affecting your fertility

Your doctor should go through all the benefits and risks of each option with you. They should also talk about how they apply to your own situation.

How will endometriosis affect my pregnancy?

For most people endometriosis shouldn’t have any negative impact on pregnancy. Some studies have found higher rates of certain pregnancy and birth-related problems to be higher in people who have endometriosis. This may include a higher risk of miscarriage or complications later on in pregnancy.

This might be a worrying thought. But bear in mind that the vast majority of people still aren’t affected.

Some people even find that their symptoms of endometriosis improve during pregnancy. Although this isn’t always the case. If they do disappear during pregnancy, it’s likely that they’ll return afterwards. It’s worth talking things over with your doctor before you get pregnant, if possible. And if you have any concerns when you are pregnant, do talk to your midwife or doctor.

Seeking support

Living with symptoms of endometriosis can be a huge burden. And having fertility problems on top of this can be particularly distressing. But don’t suffer in silence. Your doctor will be able to help you work through what options might be available to you. You may also find it helps to talk to others going through similar problems. Endometriosis UK runs support groups, as well as an online forum and helpline.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Samantha Wild
Dr Samantha Wild
Clinical Lead for Women's Health and Bupa GP



Rasheda Begum, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

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    • Endometriosis. Medscape., updated 25 July 2018
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    • Saraswat L, Ayansina DT, Cooper KG, et al. Pregnancy outcomes in women with endometriosis: a national record linkage study. BJOG. 2017 Feb;124(3):444-452. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.13920
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    • Leeners B, Damaso F, Ochsenbein-Kölble N, et al. The effect of pregnancy on endometriosis – facts or fiction? Hum Reprod Update. 2018; 24(3): 290-299

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