What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the type found lining the inside of the uterus grows in other places in the body. Endometriosis is most commonly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the back part of the uterus, but endometrial tissues can potentially grow anywhere. Doctors have reported finding endometrial tissue in the abdomen, bladder, kidneys, lungs and diaphragm, although these locations are much less common. In people with endometriosis, the endometrial tissue continues to act as it would as if still inside the uterus. The tissue growing on other organs still follows the menstrual cycle, swelling up and bleeding every month. While not life-threatening, endometriosis can be debilitating, causing painful, heavy periods; infertility; bloating; painful sex and other problems.
What causes endometriosis?
There are several theories about what causes endometriosis; the most common is Sampson’s Theory, also known as retrograde menstruation. During retrograde menstruation, endometrial cells get out of the uterus through the fallopian tubes and implant on tissues inside the abdomen, says Dr Gretchen Glaser, MD, a physician in gynaecologic surgery. Pay attention to these endometriosis symptoms and talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
You have pain before, during and after your period
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. Pain starts a few days before a person’s period, can last through the period, and continue for a couple of days after, says Dr Glaser. Some pain associated with a period is normal, but when pain becomes unmanageable and lasts for a long time, it could be a symptom of endometriosis. “When women find that they have to stay home from school or they have to stay home from work, they’re vomiting, or that they can’t function essentially during their period, that’s a good time to get checked out,” says Dr Glaser.