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  • Endometriosis typically affects about 3 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age, usually between the ages of 30 and 40, or virtually any woman with menstrual periods
  • Endometriosis is known to relapse while you’re pregnant because of the hormonal environment that prevents the condition from becoming too stressful. However, endometriosis may come back during post-pregnancy
 

Dealing With Endometriosis While Pregnant

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It is said that endometriosis typically affects between 3 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age, usually between the ages of 30 and 40, or virtually any woman with menstrual periods.1,2

Unfortunately, pregnant women may also experience endometriosis, although it can be said that it’s less painful compared to an ordinary woman’s struggle with the condition.

Endometriosis is known to relapse while you’re pregnant because of the hormonal environment that prevents the condition from becoming too stressful. However, endometriosis may come back during post-pregnancy.3

A pregnant woman with endometriosis is considered to be a high-risk case because the condition could be life-threatening for the mother and child. Why so? Dr. Lucky Saraswat, a gynecologist consultant from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in the U.K., explains:4

“We believe such changes in the pelvic and uterine environment could influence implantation and development of placenta, predisposing them to adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

Saraswat is also the first author of a nationwide cohort study that took place in Scotland, wherein the discharge data from all state hospitals was investigated, resulting in an analysis of the health records of 14,655 women.5

These Risks Are Common in Pregnant Women With Endometriosis

Although a definite link between pregnancy and endometriosis has yet to be formally announced, there are studies, such as this Scotland study, that shows that endometriosis increases the risk of a pregnant woman and her child to these conditions:6,7,8

Preterm birth: a woman has a greater risk of delivering her baby earlier compared to a woman without endometriosis.

The results from the Scotland study showed that women with a history of endometriosis and had pregnancies that progressed beyond 24 weeks displayed a higher than average risk for preterm birth.

Ectopic pregnancy:9 during an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants itself in an area other than the main cavity of the uterus, usually on the fallopian tubes or on the cervix.

An odd ratio of 2.7 was recorded when the Scotland study researchers compared the reproductive and pregnancy outcomes of 5,375 women with endometriosis and 8,280 women without endometriosis — with both groups of women being pregnant at the same time and after age and previous pregnancy rates were adjusted.

Caesarean delivery: women with endometriosis may be more likely to deliver their babies via a caesarean section.

Pre-eclampsia: usually occurring among women who are in their second and third trimesters, pre-eclampsia leads to high blood pressure levels.

Antepartum hemorrhage: this is the bleeding that takes place during the second half of the pregnancy. Just like in preterm birth, a woman’s risk for antepartum hemorrhage shoots up if she is suffering from endometriosis and if her pregnancy has progressed beyond 24 weeks.

In numerous cases, however, the cause of bleeding is still unknown, but it could be initiated by placental abruption or placenta previa. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus, either partially or completely, prior to delivery.10

Meanwhile, placenta previa happens when the baby’s placenta is partially or completely covering the opening in the mother’s cervix.11

Miscarriage: defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks, there are some studies that have highlighted endometriosis’ link with spontaneous abortion, but other studies have still not found any definite link. For miscarriage, an odds ratio of 1.76 was established in the Scotland study.

Stillbirth: a stillbirth is the loss of a pregnancy after 20 weeks. While the connection between endometriosis and stillbirth is yet to be established, some studies have found evidence between these two. Nevertheless, the main cause of stillbirth is still unknown.

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