Endometriosis and infertility: epidemiology and evidence-based treatments

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Apr:1127:92-100. doi: 10.1196/annals.1434.007.


Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disorder defined as the presence of endometrial tissue outside of the uterine cavity. A leading cause of infertility, endometriosis has a prevalence of 0.5-5% in fertile and 25-40% in infertile women. The optimal choice of management for endometriosis-associated infertility remains obscure. Removal or suppression of endometrial deposits by medical or surgical means constitutes the basis of endometriosis management. Current evidence indicates that suppressive medical treatment of endometriosis does not benefit fertility and should not be used for this indication alone. Surgery is probably efficacious for all stages of the disease. Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with intrauterine insemination is recommended in early-stage and surgically corrected endometriosis when pelvic anatomy is normal. In advanced cases, in vitro fertilization is a treatment of choice, and its success may be augmented with prolonged gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog treatment. Further randomized clinical trials focusing on diverse etiopathogenic mechanisms and therapeutic innovation are necessary to find more conclusive, evidence-based answers regarding this enigmatic disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endometriosis / complications
  • Endometriosis / epidemiology*
  • Endometriosis / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Infertility
  • Infertility, Female / complications
  • Infertility, Female / epidemiology*
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Male
  • Ovulation Induction
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
  • Treatment Outcome