Last Updated: April 10, 2019

Definition - What does Endometriosis mean?

Endometriosis is a condition in where cells that are similar to the inner layer of the uterus, called the endometrium, grow in places other than the endometrium. These endometrial-like cells (implants) can spread to the pelvic cavity, fallopian tubes, ovaries, abdomen, and in rare cases, far off sites of the body.

These implants function like endometrial cells that replicate and actively bleed with each menstrual cycle. This leads to complications like painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), pain during sex (dyspareunia), blockages of the fallopian tubes, chocolate cysts (endometriomas) and infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Endometriosis

The endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus that contains a rich supply of blood vessels that bleed during monthly cycles. What causes the spread of these endometrium-like cells to the other body sites is largely unknown. Researchers suggest it may be related to the back flow of menstrual blood through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis or through the spread of the endometrial cells to other body parts via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Wherever these cells go, they implant, start to divide and bleed with each menstrual cycle. This causes inflammation and damage to the affected part.

Diagnosis of is endometriosis is based on symptoms experienced and direct visualization of the endometrial deposits through laparoscopy.

The treatment of endometriosis is mainly to ease symptoms. Painkillers are used to treat the pain and contraceptives are prescribed to deal with menstrual irregularities. Endometrial deposits can be surgically removed, but there is a high recurrence rate. Although it is possible to conceive naturally with a diagnosis of endometriosis, pregnancy rates are greatly increased with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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