What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells that are normally found in the lining of the uterus escape the uterus through the fallopian tubes into places like the intestines and the ovaries. During the period, these cells try to bleed out in the same way that the rest of the utering lining does, but they can't get out, so they can cause serious pain. The tissue can become irritated and tissue of organs surrounding the uterus can become bound together by adhesions. There can also be scarring and and cysts on the reproductive organs.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
• Heavy periods or bleeding between periods
• Painful periods
• Infertility
• Pain during intercourse
• Pain with bowel movements or urination

*Note: these symptoms may indicate a wide variety of medical conditions. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor.


What Causes Endometriosis?
There is some debate about what causes endometriosis, but one theory is that sometimes during her period a woman may bleed into her fallopian tubes and that rarely some of that blood may escape into the pelvic cavity. Another theory is that endometriosis happens much earlier in a woman's life, when she is still an embryo and the cells are still capable of assuming any task.

How is it Diagnosed?
A definitive diagnosis can only be made with a laparascopy, which is a very minor operation. In a laparascopy, the surgeon makes a very small incision and inserts a tube with a camera into the pelvis to look for adhesion and endometrial implants. Endometrial implants are groups of endometrial cells or cells of the type that line the uterus.

What Does it Mean in Terms of Fertility?
While some women with endometriosis will be able to get pregnant with no difficulty at all, some women will have fertility problems. Medical professionals estimate that around 70% of women with endometriosis will get pregnant within three years even without treatment.

There are two causes of infertility in women with endometriosis. The first is structural: adhesions or scar tissue can block the fallopian tubes. The second is hormonal: the hormones secreted by the endometrial tissue disrupt the regular hormone balance in the body. Hormonal treatment may help in some cases.

If there is a structural blockage, doctors may be able to perform what is referred to as conservative surgery to repair the damage. Success depends upon the level of damage.

If the ovaries respond to hormonal stimulation, often artificial insemination works. If the fallopian tubes are badly damaged, though, IVF is a better option. Generally, doctors will move to IVF if artificial insemination is unsuccessful for several cycles even if they cannot discern any visible damage to the fallopian tubes. IVF success rates are very good for women under forty who suffer from endometriosis, if they produce eggs well when given hormones to stimulate egg production.

Stories by women diagnosed with endometriosis:
Barbara *
Cassidy (Adoption)
Claudia *
Dawn *
Donna-B *
Emma (Adoption)
Stephanie (Surrogacy)
Tammy *

* Success story

This page is sponsored in part by:

Barnes & Noble Pregnancy & Pre-pregnancy Books