Endometriosis occurs when tissue that looks like endometrium (the lining of the uterus) is found outside of the uterus (womb) and causes inflammation. Small pieces of endometriosis are commonly called endometriotic lesions, implants, foci or nodules. Endometriosis is most commonly found in the pelvis and lower abdomen, around the ovaries, tubes, the area between your rectum and womb, and on the internal ligaments which hold the womb in place.
It may be found on the bladder or the bowel and in some cases even in other parts of the body such as the lungs and spinal cord.
Endometriosis is similar to the tissue that lines the womb and like this endometrium it will react to the hormonal changes that occur naturally during the menstrual cycle. Throughout the month endometriosis cells respond to the hormone oestrogen by multiplying and swelling. They then break down and bleed, just like the lining of the womb during a period. However, unlike the blood shed during a period, bleeding from endometriosis cannot escape from the body. This can results in inflammation, pain and the development of scar tissue. Such scar tissue can cause adhesions which can distort anatomy and cause some organs to stick together. Endometriosis affecting the ovary sometimes causes ovarian cysts, called endometriomas or ‘chocolate cysts’ (due to their appearance as they are filled with dark brown blood).
The extent of endometriosis can vary from a few small spots of tissue with no adhesions to large ovarian cysts with very distorted pelvic anatomy.
Endometriosis is not an infection or cancer; it is a chronic condition which is not life threatening.
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Over 70 million women world wide are affected by endometriosis. The disease affects women in the pre-menopausal period. Treatment would depend on the severity and site of the endometriosis.
The following information on Endometriosis may be useful: