Endometriosis is the incidence of endometrial tissue, normally found in the lining of the uterus, growing outside the uterine cavity in other areas of a woman’s body. It can cause painful periods and infertility. It rarely affects postmenopausal women because it depends on estrogen production.
Outlying endometrial tissue is most commonly found in the pelvic cavity in the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well as on the lining of the intestines. Problems occur when blood build-up from the misplaced tissue has nowhere to go and causes internal bleeding, ultimately leaving scar tissue that can cause infertility.
Women with mild to moderate forms may still be able to get pregnant, but women with severe forms usually have trouble because of scar tissue distorting the fallopian tubes that prevents the egg and sperm from meeting or the fertilized egg from traveling down the tube normally. This can result in an ectopic pregnancy. Also too much estrogen can have negative repercussions.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Not every woman with endometriosis has symptoms, but those who do may have recurring pain, which can be most severe around their menstrual cycles, as well as abnormal bleeding with heavy or long periods, bleeding between periods or after intercourse.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The best way to diagnosis endometriosis is through laparoscopic surgery with a biopsy. The physician will look for signs of endometriosis outside the uterus. There are four stages, with Stage I being minimal to Stage IV being extensive and severe. For women who want to get pregnant, the surgeon can remove the scar tissue during a laparoscopy. Pregnancy symptoms can resolve endometriosis.
Doctors may also prescribe hormonal treatments to treat endometriosis.