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Endometriosis is a painful disease

Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrium) grows in other areas of the body, causing pain, irregular bleeding, and possible infertility. The tissue growth (implant) typically occurs in the pelvic area, outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, bowel, rectum, bladder, and the delicate lining of the pelvis. However, the implants can occur in other areas of the body too.


The most common symptoms of Endometriosis are:

* Pain before and during periods

* Pain during intercourse     * General, chronic pelvic pain throughout the month

* Low back pain     * Heavy and/or irregular periods * Painful urination during menstruation

* Painful bowel movements, especially during menstruation

* Fatigue * Infertility * Diarrhea or constipation

Other symptoms which are common with Endometriosis include:

* Headaches      * Low grade fevers      * Depression

* Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)     * Anxiety     * Susceptibility to infections

* Allergies      * Chemical sensitivities     * Frequent yeast infections

Endometriosis can affect any woman, from premenarche to postmenopause, regardless of her race or ethnicity or gravida score, or socio-economic status. While most cases of endometriosis are diagnosed in women aged around 25-35 years, endometriosis has been reported in girls as young as 11 years of age. Endometriosis is rare in postmenopausal women.

Endometriosis is estimated to affect over one million women (estimates range from 3% to 18% of women) in the United States . It is one of the leading causes of pelvic pain and reasons for laparoscopic surgery and hysterectomy in this country. About 30 percent to 40 percent of women with endometriosis are subfertile. Some women do not find out that they have endometriosis until they have trouble getting pregnant. Endometriosis is more commonly found in white women as compared with African American and Asian women. Studies further suggest that endometriosis is most common in taller, thin women with a low body mass index (BMI). Delaying pregnancy until an older age is also believed to increase the risk of developing endometriosis

Do men develop endometriosis? Yes, men can develop endometriosis. However, it is rare. Men have developed endometriosis when they are treated with estrogen after prostate surgery.

Potential Causes

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but a number of theories have been proposed.

Implantation by Retrograde Menstruation: suggests that the menstrual blood flows backward through the fallopian tubes during menstruation and the endometrial cells get implanted into the peritoneal cavity.

Coelomic Metaplasia: suggests that the potent cells in the abdomen and pelvis are transformed into endometrial tissue due to a variety of factors like inflammation, hormones, and infection.

Immunological Theory: suggests that endometriosis is and autoimmune disease and is due to a decreased immunity.

Dissemination Through Lymphatics and Blood Vessels: suggests that endometrial cells enter the blood and lymphatics and are carried to different sites.

Genetic Predispostion: first-degree relatives of women with this disease are more likely to develop it as well

Continued: Endometriosis, An Overview, Part 2

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Last updated October 2013