Endometriosis: An abnormality or problem connected with the lining of the womb (endometrium). This problem can be summed up as the presence of endometrial tissue (consists of gland, blood cells, and connective tissue), in an unusual site outside the womb cavity - known as ectopic endometrium.
Occurs when cells that should live inside the uterus migrate to other areas of the body, most commonly in the lower part of the pelvis, including the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The most common place for this tissue to be found is the abdominal cavity. It can also develop in the:
If left to develop these tissue lesions can lead to intense pelvic pain and affect fertility.
The main symptoms of endometriosis are:
Pain during intercourse
Spotting between periods
Loss of large blood clots during menstruation
Bleeding from the bowel
Depression or low moods
Feeling tired all the time
Endometrial tissue is programmed to respond to a woman's hormonal cycle - and this displaced tissue cells are no exception (meaning anywhere the tissue is it situated will bleed along side the period). This can be extremely painful especially in the sites where there is no escape route for the blood, which may lead to inflammation. Scaring and blockages inside the pelvic cavity can affect female infertility.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnoses can take anything from 6 to 10 years. There are no blood tests, the only way to diagnose or exclude the condition is a laparoscopy. It can show :
If endometriosis is present
Where it is
How severe it is
The cause of endometriosis is unknown
How Endometriosis Affects Fertility
Endometriosis may affect on a biochemical level with problems ranging from an:
Increased risk of miscarriage
Due to high levels of prostaglandin (a hormone like chemical responsible for the severe menstrual cramps that often accompany this disease) emitted from the endometrial lesions the chemical causes the uterus to contract - causing spasms in the fallopian tubes - which in turn can push the fertilized egg to the uterus so quickly it might not have time to implant.
The most common sites for renegade endometrial tissue to develop are the ovaries and fallopian tubes - which can lead to the formation of blood filled 'chocolate cysts' on the ovaries. Not only is the overall health of the ovaries affected but it can also severely affect:
With effect on the fallopian tubes the tissue forms inside the tube/s causing obstruction (scar tissue) that interfere with
The ability of the egg and sperm to meet
A fertilized egg being able to travel to the uterus
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