The ‘endometrium’ is the tissue that lines the uterus. When endometriosis occurs, this type of tissue grows in locations outside the uterus. This can cause pelvic pain, painful periods and problems with fertility. Endometriosis affects 5-10% of women in their reproductive years. Endometriosis is a chronic condition. Doctors and scientists still don’t have a complete understanding of endometriosis or why it happens. Although you can have endometriosis and have none of these, the typical signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
Any or all of these symptoms may also be due to causes other than endometriosis.
No one knows exactly why endometriosis happens, but there are factors that increase the risk of having the condition, including:
If you have endometriosis it can be more difficult to become pregnant. Scar tissue can block your fallopian tubes and prevent egg and sperm from meeting. The good news is that many women with endometriosis are able to conceive, but it usually takes longer. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is also an option, but success rates may be lower for women with endometriosis.
In some cases you will be advised to have the extra endometrial tissue surgically removed. This is usually done laparoscopically (with fibre-optic instruments inserted through the abdominal wall). Studies have shown that treating endometriosis with hormones does not improve fertility rates. In other cases IVF may be your best option.