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Surgery for problems getting pregnant

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for women who have problems getting pregnant because of endometriosis. It tells you about surgery to remove tissue damaged by endometriosis, a treatment used for these types of fertility problems. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

If you have a condition called endometriosis, having surgery is likely to improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a baby. Surgery is more likely to help if your endometriosis is less widespread.

If you're deciding whether to have surgery for endometriosis, you need to consider the risks as well as the possible benefits.

What is it?

If you have endometriosis, it means that some of the tissue (the endometrium) that normally makes up the lining of your womb is growing around your ovaries or your fallopian tubes. This extra tissue can cause damage and scarring and can lower your chances of getting pregnant.

Surgery aims to take out the damaged tissue.

If your endometriosis isn't too widespread, doctors may be able to remove the damaged tissue through small cuts in your abdomen. This is called keyhole surgery or laparoscopic surgery.

See What to expect if you have surgery to remove endometriosis.

How can it help?

Surgery to remove your endometriosis is likely to increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a baby. Here's what the research tells us.

  • About 1 in 4 women who have surgery to remove their endometriosis go on to have a baby. [144]

  • One advantage of having surgery is that surgeons may find and treat other problems (such as scarring) that may be affecting your fertility. [36]

  • Keyhole surgery and regular surgery work equally well for treating endometriosis. [145]

Surgery for endometriosis may work better than hormone treatments. [145]

How does it work?

Doctors aren't sure why having endometriosis makes it less likely that you'll get pregnant. It may affect the egg or sperm. Or it may make it more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg.

By carefully removing damaged tissue around the ovaries or fallopian tubes, surgeons hope to improve a woman's chance of getting pregnant.

Can it be harmful?

Any kind of surgery has risks. When you have surgery, there's a small chance that you'll get:

  • An infection

  • Problems with bleeding.

If you have a general anaesthetic, there's a small added chance of:

  • Problems with your breathing or circulation

  • Blood clots

  • An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic.

In the research we looked at, about 1 in 50 women who had surgery for endometriosis had complications during or after the surgery. [36]

You may also get some scarring with this type of surgery. This is more likely if you have regular surgery rather than keyhole surgery.

Some people do die during or after surgery, but this is very rare. [81]

Last Updated: July 10, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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