Endometriosis is a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus is found in other locations in the body. Typically, endometrial tissue is found around the outside of the uterus, surrounding the fallopian tubes, or within the ovaries. In rare circumstances, the tissue has been found in the chest cavity or even within an abdominal scar.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not yet known, but there are several theories as to how it develops. The oldest and most accepted theory suggests that some amount of a woman’s menstrual fluid flows backwards through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis. The endometrial tissue present in the menstrual fluid begins to grow in the new location in response to female sex hormones each month. This is not the only theory, however. One common theory speculates that the movement of the endometrial tissue from the uterus occurs via the blood or lymphatic system to distant sites or, while another suggests that normal tissues transforms to resemble abnormal endometrial tissue. The exact cause of endometriosis is still being investigated.
Endometriosis may cause pain, inflammation, as well as infertility. Depending of the location of the abnormal endometrial tissue, your pain may vary. Some women experience pain only during their menses, while others may experience pain all of the time. Endometriosis causes infertility by two ways. First, it causes an immunological response that destroys the normal, healthy environment for the egg, sperm, and embryos. Secondly, endometriosis is categorized as an inflammatory condition. This inflammation can destroy or obstruct the normal pelvic architecture that facilitates egg pick up by the fallopian tube.
The symptoms of endometriosis can be treated through medications or surgical treatment. Women who are trying to become pregnant are often not able to use the medications that treat endometriosis. Therefore, only surgical treatment would be used to treat severe pain.
For women with mild endometriosis, ovarian hyperstimulation along with inseminations is often successful in helping women conceive. Women with severe endometriosis typically achieve the greatest success with in-vitro fertilization.