Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium lining of the uterus attaches itself to other organs outside of the uterus. During menstruation the endometrium lining is shed from the uterus, but the lining that has attached outside the uterus has no way of leaving the body. This lining continues to be aggravated at the times of ovulation and menstruation, and can break down and bleed, tear away, or form painful scar tissue. These implants or lesions grow abnormally leading to pain and discomfort. According to the Endometriosis Research Center, this disease affects more than 7 million women in the US and is the leading cause of female infertility, chronic pelvic pain and gynecologic surgeries.

What causes endometriosis?

There is no known cause for Endometriosis. Some experts have come up with a few possibilities, but nothing has been proven conclusive.

One possible cause of Endometriosis is that during menstruation, menstrual tissue backs up into the fallopian tubes, enters the abdominal cavity and implants. Most physicians believe that all women experience some type of back up at some point, but women who have immune problems, go on to develop Endometriosis.

Another theory is that Endometriosis is a genetic birth abnormality in which the endometrial cells develop outside of the uterus during fetal development. Once this female is grown and begins to experience menstruation, these misplaced cells become lesions or implants that cause pain and discomfort.

There is also a genetic theory that is being studied worldwide by doctors based in London. This theory bases strong evidence on the idea that Endometriosis is hereditary. Early studies show that women with family history of Endometriosis are more likely to have daughters who suffer from the disease.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis may include one or more of the following:

  • Chronic or intermittent pelvic pain
  • Dysmenorhea (painful menstruation)
  • Infertility
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy or irregular bleeding
  • Pain during ovulation
  • Gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea, bloating)
  • Painful urination
  • Lower back pain

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis can only be diagnosed through surgery. Ultrasounds, MRI's and CAT scans are not conclusive when diagnosing Endometriosis. A physician will usually study the history of symptoms and decide whether a surgical procedure is needed to make a diagnosis. A laporoscopy or laporotomy procedure is used when trying to diagnose Endometriosis.

Is there a cure for endometriosis?

There is not a cure for Endometriosis, but there is treatment to help women manage and deal with their symptoms.

What is the treatment for endometriosis?

The treatment of Endometriosis can be handled in one or more of four options: