Endometriosisis a condition in which tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus (called “the endometrium”), is found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue. It is primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, on the ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, on the bladder, and bowel.
In very rare cases it has been found on the diaphragm and in the lungs.
Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world.
However, endometriosis can start as early as a girl’s first period, and menopause may not resolve the symptoms of endometriosis – especially if the woman has scar tissue or adhesions from the disease and/or surgery.
The symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, painful ovulation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, heavy bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility, and can impact on general physical, mental, and social well being.
A general lack of awareness by both women and health care providers, due to a “normalisation” of symptoms, results in a significant delay from when a woman first experiences symptoms until she eventually is diagnosed and treated.
There is no known cure and, although endometriosis can be treated effectively with drugs, most treatments are not suitable for long-term use due to side-effects.
Surgery can be effective to remove endometriosis lesions and scar tissue, but success rates are dependent on the extent of disease and the surgeon’s skills.
For more information, visit http://endometriosis.org/.