WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS
Endometriosis (pronounced en – doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is a complex condition involving hormonal and immune systems. It is a common chronic (long-term) inflammatory condition that has a significant impact on people's lives including pain and fertility problems as well as an impact on relationships, absenteeism from work and school and, mental health.
Some people are relatively unaffected by the condition, while a great many others suffer severe pain and distress from problems associated with endometriosis. It tends to be a progressive condition - left untreated it tends to worsen over time with each period. Early diagnosis and treatment can alleviate symptoms and may preserve fertility.
People with endometriosis and / or immune disorders in their family may be more likely to develop endometriosis.
You can download our 'Endo 101' factsheet here.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) grows in abnormal locations such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic lining, bowel, bladder, appendix and other organs.
The tissue grows in response to the monthly hormonal cycle. Oestrogen stimulates patches forming superficial lesions or endometrioma (ovarian cysts). Inflammation is generally present, and adhesions (scar tissue) can also form in response. The outcome is often pain and fertility problems alongside significant impacts on lifestyle, work, mental health, and relationships.
Endometriosis can be found throughout the body, including the bowel, bladder, and liver, and less commonly on locations such as kidneys, diaphragm, heart, lungs, nose, belly button, and elsewhere - causing a wide variety of (usually cyclical) symptoms.
While generally considered to be a condition affecting those of reproductive age, it can also occur pre-puberty, post-menopause, and in those who have had hysterectomies. Rarely, it has been found to affect those assigned as male at birth.
There are four types of endometriosis:
These are small patches, usually 1-2 millimeters across, or smaller.
Deeply Infiltrating Endometriosis (DIE)
Nodules usually at least half a centimetre deep.
Endometrioma (Ovarian Cysts)
Cysts of endometriosis within the wall of an ovary, typically dark brown so are sometimes known as 'chocolate cysts'.
While there is some debate whether or not this is a separate condition, it is effectively endometriosis located within the muscular wall of the uterus.