Endometriosis is a benign condition in which tissues that are normally found lining the inside of the uterus are also present in other locations in the body – like the ovaries, fallopian tubes (tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus), and/or the uterine ligaments (these ligaments help to keep the uterus properly placed). The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but the implantation theory has been suggested to better understand it. This theory suggests that during the menstrual cycle there is a small amount of reverse flow of menstrual blood containing uterine tissue into the fallopian tubes (usually the flow is out towards the vagina). Since one end of each tube is open to the pelvic cavity, the uterine tissue can spread from here and implant in other structures. These implants undergo the same cyclic changes seen in the uterus during menstruation but have no outlet for the blood. As they continue to bleed each month, inflammation and consequential scarring result. Endometriosis is most commonly found in women of the reproductive age group because it is estrogen dependent.
Painful periods. The most frequent presentation is that of painful menstruation. As the individual implants undergo changes during menstruation and bleed, they cause localized inflammation. During this reaction, chemicals released may induce the pain response.
Pain with urination and bowel movements. The symptoms can vary depending on where the endometriosis is located. For example, if it were located on or near the rectum, painful bowel movements can be felt. Patients can also experience pain during urination.
Pain during intercourse. Women often experience pain during or after sexual intercourse.
Heavy bleeding. The flow of the menstrual cycle can become heavier and there may be premenstrual spotting. There may also be bleeding between periods.
Infertility. Endometriosis can be diagnosed when women are seeking infertility treatments.
Other symptoms. Include bloating, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and constipation (especially during menstrual cycles).