Endometriosis Overview

Endometriosis is a gynecological condition found in women of reproductive age where the lining cells of the uterus grow outside of the uterus under hormonal stimulation (endometrial implants).

While implants are most commonly on the ovaries, they can also be found on/in the:

  • Fallopian tubes
  • Outer uterine surface
  • Intestines
  • Appendix
  • Cervix
  • Bladder
  • Vagina

Rarely, endometrial implants have been found to travel outside the pelvis to old surgery scars, the lungs, brain, and liver.

Endometriosis, which is a common cause of infertility, affects as many as 5% to 18% of women in the United States and is a leading cause of pelvic pain.

Not every woman with endometriosis has pelvic pain. The intensity of the pain is no reflection on the extent or size of the endometrial implants.

Symptoms associated with endometriosis include:

  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic pain (increased during menses)
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Low back pain
  • Pain on urination
  • Pain on having bowel movements
  • Diarrhea/constipation
  • Rarely: chest pain, headaches

The cause of endometriosis is unknown. However, a widely accepted theory is that of retrograde menstruation: the uterine cells flow upward with blood during the monthly period and out the fallopian tubes into the pelvis.


Written by Barbara Hales, M.D.

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