Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue, similar to the lining in your uterus, grows in other areas of your body.
If you are a woman, your reproductive system includes the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
During a normal menstrual cycle, your ovaries make chemicals, called hormones,
which signal the lining of your uterus to thicken.
The lining, called the endometrium, builds up to prepare to receive a fertilized egg.
If the egg isn't fertilized, the uterus sheds the lining through your vagina.
This monthly bleeding is called your menstrual period.
If you have endometriosis, the lining type tissue grows outside your uterus for reasons that aren't clear.
The misplaced tissue responds to the hormones just like it would if it were inside your uterus.
The tissue continues to thicken, then sheds and bleeds with every menstrual cycle.
However, the blood and tissue that are shed outside the uterus have no way to leave your body.
The trapped endometrial flow can irritate the surrounding area causing inflammation and pain.
Bands of scar tissue, called adhesions, may form, sticking one organ to another or causing your fallopian tubes to close.
This can affect your fertility, which is the ability to become pregnant.
Endometriosis can form endometriomas, also known as chocolate cysts.
These cysts are fluid filled sacs on your ovaries that can affect fertility.
Endometriosis may also result in abnormal bleeding.
The most common sites for endometriosis are the ovaries, fallopian tubes,
the outside of your uterus, the supporting structures around your uterus, and the lining of your pelvis called the peritoneum.
Other sites include your bladder, rectum, and intestines.
If you have endometriosis, you may have one or more of these symptoms:
chronic, usually worsening central pelvic pain, pain before or during your period,
pain during sex felt deep within your pelvis, painful urination during your period, painful bowel movements during your period,
abnormal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, or nausea, and difficulty getting pregnant, called infertility.
Your doctor may recommend treatment options from the following categories:
pain management medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, provide relief from pain.
Hormone therapy, such as birth control pills, can prevent monthly endometrial buildup and bleeding.
You may need a surgical procedure to treat the tissue causing pain or bleeding.
Examples of such procedures include: removal or destruction of endometrial tissue,
removal of adhesions and scar tissue,
removal or drainage of cysts,
removal or destruction of nerve fibers that transmit pain,
removal of your uterus, called a hysterectomy,
or removal of your ovaries called an oophorectomy.