What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis Pelvic pain can be difficult to diagnose and treat and be a source of great anxiety and stress. Endometriosis occurs when the tissue lining the uterus becomes displaced and grows outside of the uterus. This tissue is called the endometrium. The most common location includes the ovaries’ fallopian tubes and the surface of other organs located in the pelvis. Rarely endometriosis tissue can be seen in locations quite distal from the uterus, such as the inside of the nose. This displaced endometrial tissue functions similar to its counterpart in the uterus, being affected by hormonal changes during the menstrual.

However because this tissue does not have any exit, cysts called endometriomas may form causing irritation, scar tissue, and adhesions. Chronic endometriosis can cause intestinal obstruction pain and difficulties with fertility. Common symptoms and signs of endometriosis include:
painful periods also called dysmenorrhea, pelvic cramping approximating the time of the menstrual period low back and abdominal pain are also common.

Pain with intercourse, excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle and between cycles, infertility, and other vague symptoms such as fatigue constipation diarrhea bloating, and nausea.
Many different theories have been put forth as to the cause of endometriosis including accidental surgical scar implantation during a hysterectomy or C-section, retrograde menstruation when the menstrual blood containing endometrial cells is pushed backward into the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity causing them to stick to the pelvic walls. Immune disorders, endometrial cell transport where the endometrial tissue is transported in the blood to other parts of the body.

Certain risk factors are commonly noted including early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, short menstrual cycles, excessively heavy menstrual periods lasting longer than a week, elevated levels of estrogen, hereditary factors, anatomical congenital factors of the reproductive tract, and never having children. One of the most common reasons endometriosis is discovered is during fertility treatments. There is an increased risk of cancer for those with endometriosis. But this risk is still relatively low. The pain from inflamed affected pelvic organs can cause radiation of symptoms and pain to an area distant from the actual pathology. This is called referred pain as opposed to radicular pain which is caused by the irritation of a large spinal nerve.

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