The tissue which lines the inside of the uterus is called the endometrium. In women of reproductive age (12 years – menopause) the tissue is broken down each month and shed as menstrual blood.
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium tissue is located in other sites of the body outside the uterus instead of being confined to the inside lining.
It is thought that this may happen for two reasons:
- Instead of the menstrual fluid flowing outside the body in the usual way, it flows back through the fallopian tubes.
- Patches of endometrium tissue may be deposited during the very early development of the reproductive organs.
Sites of Endometriosis
- Behind the uterus (called the Pouch of Douglas)
- The tissue below the ovaries (called the broad ligament)
- The bladder
- The bowel
- The vagina
- Rarely, it may occur in surgical scars, the navel or elsewhere
- Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women
- It is commonly associated with infertility
- 3 out of 10 infertile women have endometriosis
- The surgical removal of endometriosis can help infertility
- Untreated endometriosis is associated with an increased miscarriage rate
- Women may have symptoms for many years before a diagnosis is made
- A laparoscopy is the most reliable diagnostic method
- Endometriosis can occur at any time between puberty and menopause
- Endometriosis frequently occurs during teenage years