December 6, 2023
4 Minutes

Egg Freezing with Endometriosis

Egg Freezing with Endometriosis
Written by
Dr Zoe Miller
Medical Editor and Doctor at NHS
Amilis makes fertility digestible, accessible, and affordable to help you take charge of your reproductive health and live on your own timeline.

In an eggshell...

  • Endometriosis is when cells from the uterus grow outside of it. This can be in other reproductive organs, your bladder, bowel, or even further away.
  • The egg freezing process is very similar whether you have endometriosis or not. The process can differ depending on how much treatment you've received for your endometriosis, and/or the severity of the condition.

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is when cells from the uterus grow outside of it. This can be in other reproductive organs, your bladder, bowel, or even further away.

Pain, constipation, and heavy periods are just some of the symptoms caused by the condition. Although, some women don’t experience any.If you want to find out more about endometriosis, visit our info page.

Infertility is the part of endometriosis that we’ll discuss today.

Endometriosis does not equal infertility. More than 60% of women with the condition can get pregnant naturally.1

However, it’s important to discuss your future fertility goals with your doctor. They may affect your treatment options, and what type of surgery is performed.2

Endometriosis-Specific Reasons for Egg Freezing

Generally, there are 4 main reasons why women with endometriosis may benefit from egg freezing.3

Endometriosis can cause infertility

We don’t know exactly why endometriosis causes infertility. Theories include scar tissue damaging reproductive organs, and inflammation stopping fertilisation. If natural conception isn’t possible, IVF is the best option, which requires egg collection.

Eggs are likely to be healthier if collected earlier- both due to younger age and (hopefully) fewer effects from endometriosis.

Endometriosis recurs

Despite surgery to treat it, endometriosis returns in 50% of women by 5 years.3

Knowing the disease is likely to come back, or get worse, women may choose to get a head start and freeze their eggs.

Surgery for endometriosis can reduce ovarian reserves

Endometrial surgery can damage the ovaries or tissues that produce hormones needed for ovulation and egg production.

Freezing your eggs before surgery means this kind of damage has less of an impact on your fertility.

Endometriosis itself can reduce ovarian reserves

If endometriosis tissue grows within the ovaries, this can damage egg production. Cysts called endometriomas are particularly bad for this.

Again, freezing your eggs before this happens can be a type of insurance policy.

How Is the Egg Freezing Process Different If I Have Endometriosis?

Much of the egg freezing process is similar, whether you have endometriosis or not. Endometriosis can complicate things, though. We’ve collected information from our partner clinics on how they tailor the egg freezing process to women with endometriosis.

If you’ve had surgery (laparoscopy) already...

The clinic will need to consider whether your ovarian reserve is affected.4 If so, you’re more likely to need a larger number of egg freezing cycles.

If you want to freeze your eggs before surgery...

Be aware, scarring, and thick endometrial tissue can make it difficult to remove the eggs from the ovary. You may have more success after surgery if this is the case.

Choosing the right egg freezing protocol…

Some clinics prefer to use a “long protocol”. This means taking the hormones for longer before having the egg collection surgery. Some evidence suggests this method is more effective for women with endometriosis.5

If you have endometriomas (cysts)…

Women with endometriomas, a type of cyst caused by endometriosis, may require antibiotics before and during egg collection. These cysts may have bacteria inside, which can be spread to other parts of the reproductive system during egg collection, or to the eggs.

How Successful Is Egg Freezing with Endometriosis?

It’s difficult to give a true answer. Research is limited. However, one study shows 46% of women with endometriosis who thawed their eggs oocytes had a live birth.7

Success is also something that varies between clinics. For more information on working out success rates between clinics, visit our previous post. Feel free to get in touch with us for more help. Or book a free consultation with our partner clinics to ask them your questions directly.

Egg freezing is never guaranteed to work. And adding endometriosis to the picture can complicate things further. But success is still possible! In depth research, planning ahead, and knowing the risks vs benefits can all help.

Written by
Dr Zoe Miller
Medical Editor and Doctor at NHS