What is endometriosis
Endometriosis is a benign but chronic disease in which the endometrium has migrated from the uterus to the abdominal cavity, causing symptoms.
What is endometrosis?
Endometriosis is a benign, chronic disease in which the uterine lining (endometrium) exits the uterus and implants itself in so-called endometriosis spots in the abdominal region. The spots are normally found on the peritoneum, ovaries and fallopian tubes or in the vagina or uterus muscles. More rarely, organs such as the intestine, ureter, bladder or pelvic nerves may be affected. The endometriosis spots respond to hormonal influences just like the uterine lining. They grow during the menstrual cycle and bleed during menstruation.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not yet known. There seems to be a genetic disposition, i.e. more frequent occurrence within affected families. Causes suspected by physicians include proliferation of endometrial cells via menstrual bloodflow into the abdominal cavity (retrograde menstruation) and environmental toxins.
There is no correlation between the severity of the disease and the extent of symptoms. There are women who have very mild or no symptoms and are still suffering from endometriosis. In this case, the disease often appears only as a incidental finding or when infertility is investigated for causes.
Others have strong symptoms and very few endometriosis lesions.
Women suffering from endometriosis are especially affected by the following symptoms:
- In some cases very painful and pronounced menstrual bleeding
- Lower abdomen and back pain
- Pain during intercourse, defecation and urination
- If intestine and/or bladder are affected bleeding during menstruation is possible
- Ovarial cyst formation
- One in two women with an unfulfilled desire to have children have endometriosis
Only large endometriosis spots can be diagnosed using ultrasound. A palpation examination can reveal initial signs. Actual confirmation of an endometriosis diagnosis requires a laparoscopy procedure. This involves small incisions in the umbilical region through which the abdominal cavity can be viewed and a tissue sample taken. If necessary, a direct therapeutic intervention can be included in the procedure as well.