What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common health problem in women. It gets its name from the word, endometrium (end-doh-MEE-tree-um), the tissue that lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis occurs when the tissue grows outside of the uterus on the other organs or structures in the body.


Most often, endometriosis is found on the:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian Tubes
  • Tissues that hold the uterus in place
  • Outer surface of the uterus
  • Lining of the pelvic cavity

Other sites for growths can include the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum. In rare cases, endometriosis has been found in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, and skin.


What Causes Endometriosis?

It has not been determined exactly what causes endometriosis, however doctors have identified some risk factor of endometriosis.


Who gets Endometriosis?

More than five million women in the United States have endometriosis. It is one of the most common health problems for women. It can occur in any teen or woman who has a menstrual period, but it is most common in women in their 30s and 40s.

The symptoms of endometriosis stop for a time during pregnancy. Symptoms also tend to decrease with menopause, when menstrual periods end for good. In some cases, women who take menopausal hormone therapy may still have symptoms of endometriosis.


How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

To diagnose endometriosis, your doctor may have you describe your symptoms (typically pelvic pain), in terms of location, severity, and duration or when the pain occurs.

Other diagnostic tests your doctor may perform are:

  • Pelvic Exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy – likely only to be used if medication is not effective