Complications of endometriosis 

The main complication of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant or not being able to get pregnant at all (infertility). In some cases, there may also be adhesions or ovarian cysts.

Fertility problems

Endometriosis can sometimes damage the fallopian tubes or ovaries, causing fertility problems. However, 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 allow you to get pregnant.

If you're having difficulty getting pregnant, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) offers a good chance of conception, although women with endometriosis tend to have a lower chance of getting pregnant with IVF than others, such as women with blocked fallopian tubes.

Read information about treating infertility.

Adhesions and ovarian cysts

Other problems include the formation of:

  • adhesions – "sticky" areas of endometriosis tissue that can fuse 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. Both of these complications can be removed through surgery, but may recur if the endometriosis returns.

Read information about treating ovarian cysts.

Page last reviewed: 09/11/2015

Next review due: 01/11/2018