What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is one cause of chronic pelvic pain and is due to the growth of tissue that lines the uterus, the endometrium, in locations outside the uterus. The implants of endometrial tissue are often found on the surfaces of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ureters, intestines, rectum, and/or ovaries.
Why is endometriosis painful?
Because the implants of endometrial tissue outside the uterus respond to changes in estrogen during the menstrual cycle, the implants can grow and bleed just like the lining of the uterus does during the menstrual cycle. This causes the surrounding tissues to be irritated and inflamed and may result in scarring. Bleeding, inflammation, and scarring can cause pain, especially before and during the menstrual period.
How is endometriosis diagnosed and treated?
Sometimes a diagnosis of endometriosis will be suggested based on chronic symptoms that are experienced during the menstrual cycle. This would be a clinical diagnosis of endometriosis. The only way to be certain of a diagnosis of endometriosis is by seeing and/or taking a sample of endometriosis during a laparoscopic surgery. Endometriosis may be treated with medication, surgery, or both.