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Endometriosis: Introduction

Endometriosis is a common disorder of a woman's reproductive organs and pelvic area. Endometriosis is often associated with painful menstrual periods, and if left untreated, can result in complications, such as difficulty getting pregnant, infertility, and the formation of painful adhesions. Endometriosis is not curable in many cases, but it can be successfully treated to minimize discomfort and increase the chances of conceiving a pregnancy.

Endometriosis occurs as the result of an abnormal growth of endometrial tissue. Endometrial tissue makes up the lining of the uterus. It has special qualities because it responds to changing hormones by becoming thickened and engorged with blood during each menstrual cycle. It is normally shed during the menstrual period if a pregnancy doesn't occur.

In endometriosis this endometrial tissue begins to grow in places outside the uterus. Typical sites include the fallopian tubes, intestines, vagina, and on scars that may form after abdominal surgery.

This misplaced endometrial tissue thickens, engorges with blood and bleeds during the menstrual cycle, just like the normal tissue in the uterus. However, there is no place for the abnormally placed endometrial tissue outside the uterus to shed blood. This results in the formation of cysts, scars, and adhesions.

This process can also block or affect the fallopian tubes so that conception and pregnancy are less likely to happen. It can also result in complete infertility. Other symptoms of endometriosis are often associated with heavy or painful periods. For more details about symptoms, refer to symptoms of endometriosis.

Risk factors for the development of endometriosis include having a mother or sister with the disorder, never having children, starting the menstrual period at an early age, and frequent or long periods.

Symptoms of endometriosis can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as potentially fatal uterine cancer, so if you experience symptoms, it is important to promptly seek medical care and diagnosis. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of endometriosis.

Diagnosis of endometriosis begins with a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and examination, including a pelvic examination. Diagnostic tests include a transvaginal ultrasound. In this test a picture of the reproductive organs is created using sound waves produced by a probe placed in the vagina.

Another common diagnostic test is a laparoscopy. In this procedure, the reproductive and abdominal organs, such as the intestines and liver, are examined by using a tiny lighted instrument that is inserted through a small incision below the belly button.

Treatment of endometriosis is tailored to the individual case, the severity of symptoms, and the presence of any complications. Women who have no or minimal symptoms may not need specific treatment.

For more severe symptoms or those causing problems, such as infertility in a woman who wants to get pregnant, there are a variety of treatments available. These may include pain medications, medications that suppress the abnormal endometrial tissue from growing, and surgery, including hysterectomy in some cases. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of endometriosis. ...more »

Endometriosis: In this condition, tissue from the uterus is misplaced inside the abdomen, causing a variety of problems. Endometriosis is a difficult condition to diagnose, often starting with no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, period pain, heavy periods, infertility, and many other symptoms of endometriosis. Symptoms are often cyclical because of the locations of the tissue and the displaced uterine tissue may also inappropriately respond to hormone cycles. Once symptoms appear, endometriosis is often misdiagnosed as other conditions such as IBS, cystitis or pelvic inflammatory disease. ...more »

Endometriosis: Symptoms

Symptoms of endometriosis run the gamut from none, to minimal, to severe. Symptoms of endometriosis occur with hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle, and they are often associated with heavy, uncomfortable, and irregular menstrual periods. Symptoms generally occur during the time of life when a woman is having menstrual cycles and disappear after ...more symptoms »

Endometriosis: Treatments

Although endometriosis may not be curable in all cases, there are treatments available to minimize symptoms, allowing many women to lead a normal, active life and to conceive a healthy pregnancy.

Treatment for endometriosis consists of a multi-faceted plan that is individualized to the severity of the disease and symptoms, the presence of complications, ...more treatments »

Endometriosis: Misdiagnosis

Symptoms of endometriosis can be similar to and confused with symptoms of other conditions, such as uterine cancer, cervical polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian cysts. Some of these conditions can be very serious, even fatal, if left untreated. In addition, untreated endometriosis can also lead to serious complications, such as ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Treatments for Endometriosis

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Endometriosis?

Endometriosis: Related Patient Stories

Endometriosis: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Endometriosis.

Alternative Treatments for Endometriosis

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Endometriosis may include:

Types of Endometriosis

Diagnostic Tests for Endometriosis

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Endometriosis: Complications

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Causes of Endometriosis

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More information about causes of Endometriosis:

Disease Topics Related To Endometriosis

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Endometriosis:

Endometriosis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Endometriosis

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Endometriosis: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Endometriosis

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Endometriosis:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Endometriosis, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Endometriosis: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Endometriosis

Endometriosis: Animations

Research about Endometriosis

Visit our research pages for current research about Endometriosis treatments.

Clinical Trials for Endometriosis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Endometriosis include:

Statistics for Endometriosis

Endometriosis: Broader Related Topics

Endometriosis Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Endometriosis, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Endometriosis

Endometriosis is another benign condition that affects the uterus. It is most common in women in their thirties and forties, especially in women who have never been pregnant. It occurs when endometrial tissue begins to grow on the outside of the uterus and on nearby organs. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Cancer of the Uterus: NCI)

Definitions of Endometriosis:

A condition in which functional endometrial tissue is present outside the UTERUS. It is often confined to the PELVIS involving the OVARY, the ligaments, cul-de-sac, and the uterovesical peritoneum. - (Source - Diseases Database)

The presence of endometrium elsewhere than in the lining of the uterus; causes premenstrual pain and dysmenorrhea - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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