What Is Endometriosis? PDF  | Print |  E-mail

What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is characterized by the occurrence of cell growth (endometriosis implants) similar to the cells that make up the lining of the uterus, in areas outside of the uterus. These extra cells are usually found on the ovaries, the external portions of the uterus, the fallopian tubes, the cervix, the surfaces of the pelvic cavity, the vagina or in the intensities. In some instances, but far less often, they may be found on the liver, brain and within the lungs. The appearance of these endometrial implants will normally affect a woman's reproductive health and cause pain along with other symptoms; however, they are benign growths and are thus not associated with cancer development.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Many women who have endometriosis have no apparent symptoms. Those who experience any associated symptoms will usually experience pain in the pelvic area and increased inability to conceive or carry a child to term. The pain is experienced around the time of menstruation and subsides thereafter. It is also possible for pain to occur during bowel movements, sexual intercourse or when urinating. For some women physical examinations become uncomfortable. The course the disease will take will vary for individual women; some may see a gradual reduction in the pain associated with the disease while others will experience further deterioration if left untreated.

The pelvic pain experienced will depend on the areas that are affected by the endometrial implants. Those which are found in areas of greater depth near nerve endings will lead to the sensation of more intense pain. Pain may also manifest as a result of the substances that they may release into the bloodstream. In addition the pain that is felt can be as the result of scars that are formed within the affected tissue. The pain is not generally a signal of how severe the disease is.

In quite a few cases of infertility, enodometriosis has been implicated as the main reason. After a laparascopy is performed, the doctor may find these endometrial implants in different areas. Many of these patients may not experience any signs of the disease and may often be surprised by these findings. It is not entirely known why a decrease in fertility occurs. It may be partly as a result of hormonal changes or problems it may induce in the anatomical structures related to reproduction. The endometrial growths may affect areas connected with fertility like the fallopian tubes which can become blocked or severely impaired. Its hormonal effects may manifest as a result of an increase in certain hormones that can have a negative impact on ovulation and the overall regulation of the cycle, implantation of the embryo or fertilization.

What is Endometriosis?

In addition to the symptoms mentioned others may include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Lower back pain
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding during periods
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Blood in the urine

In very rare instances endometriosis may cause chest pain, the coughing up of blood, headaches or seizure if the endometrial implants migrate to the brain or chest cavity.

Now you know the answer to your question, "What is endometriosis?"