Women with endometriosis can sometimes experience a number of complications.

Fertility problems

Endometriosis can damage the fallopian tubes or ovaries, causing fertility problems. But it's estimated up to 70% of women with mild to moderate endometriosis will eventually be able to get pregnant without treatment.

Medication won't improve fertility. Surgery to remove visible patches of endometriosis tissue can help, but there's no guarantee this will help you get pregnant.

If you're having difficulty getting pregnant, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be an option, although women with endometriosis tend to have a lower chance of getting pregnant with IVF than usual.

Read more about infertility treatments.

Adhesions and ovarian cysts

Some women will develop:

  • adhesions – "sticky" areas of endometriosis tissue that can join organs together
  • ovarian cysts – fluid-filled cysts in the ovaries that can sometimes become very large and painful

These can both occur if the endometriosis tissue is in or near the ovaries. They can be treated with surgery, but may come back in the future if the endometriosis returns.

Read information about treating ovarian cysts.

Surgery complications

Like all types of surgery, surgery for endometriosis carries a risk of complications.

The more common complications aren't usually serious and can include:

  • a wound infection
  • minor bleeding
  • bruising around the wound

Less common but more serious risks include:

Before having surgery, talk to your surgeon about the benefits and possible risks involved.

Bladder and bowel problems

Endometriosis affecting the bladder or bowel can be difficult to treat and may require major surgery.

For example, surgery for endometriosis in the bladder may involve cutting away part of the bladder, and a tube called a urinary catheter may be placed in your bladder to help you pee in the days after surgery.

In a few cases, you may need to pee into a bag attached to a small hole made in your tummy. This is called a urostomy and it's usually temporary.

Treatment for endometriosis in the bowel may involve removing a section of bowel. Some women need to have a temporary colostomy while their bowel heals. This is where the bowel is diverted through a hole in the tummy and waste products are collected in a bag.

Endometriosis UK has more information about endometriosis and the bladder and endometriosis and the bowel

Page last reviewed: 09/11/2015

Next review due: 01/11/2018