Medical Conditions > Endometriosis
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All you need to know

Endometriosis affects roughly 10% of women of reproductive age globally, which is approximately 190 million women worldwide. 3  This makes it one of the most common conditions that affect the reproductive system, with 1 in 10 women being affected.

In this article, we will explain what endometriosis is and outline the following:

  • Symptoms of endometriosis

  • Treatment for endometriosis

  • How endometriosis affects your ability to get pregnant

  • How endometriosis impacts your IVF success

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to those located in the womb's lining grow in other places of the body, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes.

Each month, these cells react to the changing hormone levels in the same way as the ones in the womb's lining: by breaking down and being removed as a period bleed. However, the endometriosis cells that are not in the womb's lining cannot be removed from the body as they should be and instead build up in the body. This in turn causes inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue. 

In the UK, 1.5 million women and those assigned female at birth are diagnosed with endometriosis. 1 It can affect women of any age, including teenagers and women going through menopause. 

Endometriosis can affect a person's life in significant ways, such as chronic pain, lack of energy, depression and an impact on daily life.

What are the causes of endometriosis?

There is no known cause of endometriosis. Several theories include genetics, issues with the immune system, or endometrium cells. However it's likely to be a combination of factors, as none individually explain why endometriosis occurs.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

The symptoms of endometriosis may vary between individuals and depend on the severity of the condition. Some women may be affected badly, whereas others are less so. 

Some common symptoms of endometriosis include:

Pain in your lower stomach or back (also called pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period

Heavy periods

very strong period pain (such that stops you from doing your normal activities)

Pain during or after sex

Pain when urinating during your period

Feeling sick, constipated, diarrhoea or blood in your urine during your period

Difficulty getting pregnant

source: NHS

Getting a diagnosis

Diagnosing endometriosis can be difficult as symptoms can both vary and be similar to those of other conditions.

However if you experience any of the symptoms of endometriosis, you should see a GP. Consider writing down your symptoms in a diary to help analyse when and how regularly they occur.

You may be recommended treatments or referred to a specialist for further tests. The only way to be certain you have endometriosis with through a laparoscopy which can show patches of endometriosis tissue.

What treatments are there for endometriosis?

Currently, there is no treatment for endometriosis. However, the symptoms usually can be well managed. Treatments for symptoms of endometriosis include:


Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are often the first line of treatment, to help manage the pain.

Hormone medications & contraceptives

Hormonal medication and contraception such as the pill, IUD or implant, alter your hormones in such a way that you no longer have periods. In this way, the endometriosis-affected tissues don't have to be removed either and don't cause pain.


Either cutting away the areas or endometriosis tissue, or to remove part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis, such as part of your colon, appendix or womb (called a hysterectomy).

Will endometriosis affect my ability to get pregnant?

Endometriosis does not directly cause infertility, but it is often associated with difficulties in conceiving. However, even for women with severe endometriosis, natural conception is still possible.

Laparoscopy surgery has been shown to improve pregnancy rates. During the surgery, patches of endometriosis tissues are removed, which allows successful ovulation, fertilisation and/or implantation.  

Our guide to endometriosis and fertility explains more.

Commonly asked questions about endometriosis and pregnancy

Will fertility treatment help me get pregnant if I have endometriosis?

Assisted reproductive technologies, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilisation (IVF) can help conception for women with endometriosis. If endometriosis is mild, IUI with a low level of medical stimulation of the ovaries has been found useful. Find out more about

in our guide.

What are the success rates of IVF for women with endometriosis?

For severe endometriosis, the chances of IVF success without prior laparoscopy is around 29%. A combination of both approaches may give a success rate of up to 46.9%.

The course of treatment will depend on individual medical histories and your doctor will help you navigate your


At Apricity, we deliver personalised, expert care to support you at every step of your fertility journey. Our trusted team of fertility doctors and dedicated fertility advisors are here to answer your medical questions and guide you through your fertility treatment.

Where can I find the support I need?

There are many support groups, including:

, which has a helpline and a lot of valuable information 

Regional support groups

Endometriosis forums on Facebook

If you're in distress and need someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans' 24-hour emotional support line in full confidence: 116 123.

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