Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the
endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis.
Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs. With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally
would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes
trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually
developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.
Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective
treatments are available.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with your menstrual period. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual period, women with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that's far worse than usual. They also tend to report that the pain increases over time.
Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis may include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) : Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period and extend several days into your period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
- Pain with intercourse : Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination : You're most likely to experience these symptoms during your period.
- Excessive bleeding : You may experience occasional heavy periods (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- Infertility : Endometriosis is first diagnosed in some women who are seeking treatment for infertility.
- Other symptoms : You may also experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.