- It occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) is found outside the uterus on other parts of the body.
It affects girls and women during their most productive years, and can impact all aspects of their lives – school, careers, finances, relationships, and overall well being.
- Generally, endometriosis is found in the pelvic cavity. It can attach to any of the female reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries), the uterosacral ligaments, the peritoneum, or any of the spaces between the bladder, uterus/vagina, and rectum. Endometriosis can also be found, though less commonly, on the bladder, bowel, intestines, appendix or rectum.
- Many aspects of endometriosis are misunderstood and require further research. Specifically, it is critical to define the different types of endometriosis and to understand their cause to carryout appropriate treatment.
- There are many symptoms of endometriosis, but not everyone will experience all, most or even any of the symptoms. Most commonly endometriosis patients experience pelvic pain. Pain usually coincides with menstruation, but some women may have symptoms throughout their entire cycle.
- The other symptoms will vary depending on where the endometriosis lesions are growing, but may include:
- “Killer cramps” – cramps that do not go away with NSAIDS and/or impede the activities of daily living
- Long periods – periods that last longer than 7 days
- Heavy menstrual flow – having to change your pad or tampon every hour to two hours throughout most of your period
- Bowel and urinary disorders – including but not limited to painful urination or bowel movements, frequent urge to urinate, or diarrhea
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain during sexual activities
- Over time, cyclic inflammation causes the scar tissue and adhesions to build up around the lesion, giving the impression of the lesion increasing in size. These may cause their own issues, such as organs which are bound together or anatomy that is moved out of place.
- Some women do not realize they have endometriosis until they try to become pregnant. Approximately 30-40% of women who have endometriosis experience issues with their fertility. However, studies have shown that fertility may improve after undergoing excision surgery to treat endometriosis.