Medically reviewed by Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS - Written by CHR Staff - Updated on Nov 15, 2014

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a very common gynecological condition affecting women in their reproductive years. The cause of endometriosis is still mostly undetermined, and the condition involves the endometrium (cells making up the internal lining of the uterine cavity) growing outside the uterus, most commonly on fallopian tubes, ovaries, bowel, and the pelvic tissue linings. Endometriosis affects women’s fertility in many ways.

Endometriosis and Infertility


Dr. Norbert Gleicher discusses endometriosis and how infertility treatments must address conditions caused by endometriosis.


Like the endometrial lining in the endometrial cavity of the uterus, this extra-uterine growth is affected by the patient's monthly hormonal cycle, first thickening and then shedding the superficial layer with her menstrual cycle. However, within the peritoneal cavity, the resulting bleeding does not have an exit route. The woman's immune system sees the bleeding as an "open wound," and treats it as such, causing scarring, in a process similar to the healing after a skin cut. Over time, accumulation of scar tissue causes adhesions and sometimes severe pain, if close to nerve fibers. When impacting the fallopian tubes, endometriosis can also negatively impact fertility and outcomes of infertility treatments.

Reported rates of endometriosis vary greatly, but the consensus is that approximately 5-10% of all women suffer from this condition. Endometriosis is much more common amongst women with infertility.

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Norbert Gleicher, MD

Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.

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