The Bachelor's Lexi Young Shares Heartbreaking Challenges With Stage 5 Endometriosis

After "The Bachelor" contestant Lexi Young opened up about her stage 5 endometriosis on a one-on-one date with this season's bachelor Joey Graziadei, there has been a newfound interest in the disease. Young revealed on the show that after a year and a half of not being in good health, she had a visit with her doctor who said she may not be able to have her own children because of her medical condition. 

Endometriosis is a painful condition where endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. Up to 10% of women aged 15-44 are diagnosed with it, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Endometriosis can affect your fallopian tubes, uterosacral ligaments, pelvic cavity lining, ovaries, the outside surface of the uterus, the area between the uterus and rectum, and the space between the uterus and bladder. It can also grow on your bladder, cervix, intestines, rectum, stomach, vagina or vulva, and sometimes even the brain. The disease has no cure.

Stages are assigned to the medical condition based on the number of endometrial implants and their depth. Typically, the classification is for four stages — stage 1, characterized by the mildest form of visible disease; stage 2, when the disease has spread to your ovaries; stage 3, when the condition has reached a deep category (where it's affecting other organs and tissue in your pelvic cavity); and stage 4, characterized as severe with many deep implants, large cysts, and many dense adhesions. Sometimes, there's also stage 5 when the endometrial adhesions are so dense and severe that the patient is at high risk of experiencing infertility. 

Stage 5 endometriosis and infertility

Complications with becoming pregnant when you're diagnosed with endometriosis are not unheard of. Per a 2022 study published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 35% to 50% of women with endometriosis are infertile. 

Ovarian cysts can prevent pregnancy by blocking the release of an egg or obstructing its passage to the fallopian tube. Adhesions can do the same while also obstructing sperm from reaching the egg. Additionally, the quality of your eggs can be compromised because of the condition. However, women with endometriosis, even in the advanced stages of it, can get pregnant, especially when surgery is involved. Although there is no particular data pertaining to stage 5 endometriosis and infertility, according to Dr. Heather Hilkowitz of Hilltop Obstetrics and Gynecology (via Premier Health), "It may be a little more of a challenge in some patients depending on how severe the condition is. But there are lots of different ways, medications and procedures that can be used for women who need them to achieve pregnancy in a minimally invasive way."

Lexi Young has been quite candid and vocal about her endometriosis journey on her social media, discussing the symptoms she deals with regularly and what she's had to go through in terms of surgery. She specifically referred to endo belly, also known as endometrial bloat (severe bloating of your belly), which is one of the symptoms of this medical condition. Other symptoms (also known as flare-ups) include severe pain during periods, pain during sex, painful urination and bowel movements, heavy and irregular menstruation, pelvic pain, and digestive issues during menstruation.