Endometriosis is estimated to affect between 2 and 10% of all women within the general population. Up to 50% of women with infertility have endometriosis. Symptoms can begin prior to a girl’s first period, and for most women symptoms persist throughout their menstrual life. In a number of cases symptoms persist following the menopause.
The name endometriosis comes from the word endometrium; this is the tissue lining the uterus (womb). As part of the menstrual cycle, the endometrium builds up in response to hormonal stimulation, to prepare the uterus for possible implantation and pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, this lining is shed as a menstrual period. Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial- like tissue outside of the uterus. These deposits are found mainly in the pelvis, however they can be found in other sites in the body. The endometriosis deposits cause an inflammatory reaction, that leads to pain and adhesion formation. It is believed that the endometriosis deposits react to the same hormonal stimulation as normal endometrium. This can lead to symptoms, which may be worse at certain times of the cycle, in particular just prior to and during the menstrual period.
Women with endometriosis commonly experience pelvic pain and problems with their intestines and bladder.
Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of infertility.