Endometriosis is a chronic medical condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus, typically within the pelvic region. This tissue can attach to various organs, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the lining of the pelvis. Unlike the normal endometrium that sheds during menstruation, these displaced tissues have no way to exit the body, leading to inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue (adhesions). Endometriosis affects women of reproductive age and is a common cause of pelvic pain and infertility.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to retrograde menstruation, where menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows backward into the pelvic cavity instead of leaving the body. Genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, and immune system dysfunction may also contribute to the development of endometriosis. Symptoms can vary widely and may include pelvic pain, painful periods (dysmenorrhea), pain during intercourse (dyspareunia), and infertility. The severity of symptoms does not always correlate with the extent of the disease.
Diagnosis of endometriosis often requires a combination of medical history, pelvic examinations, and imaging studies such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is through laparoscopic surgery, during which a thin tube with a camera (laparoscope) is inserted into the abdomen to visualize and potentially remove the abnormal tissue. Treatment options for endometriosis focus on managing pain and improving quality of life. Pain medications, hormonal therapies (such as birth control pills or GnRH agonists), and surgical interventions (laparoscopy) to remove or destroy endometrial tissue and adhesions are common approaches. While there is no cure for endometriosis, proper management can help alleviate symptoms and improve a woman's overall well-being.