What Causes Endometriosis?

 By: Dr. Eric Daiter MD
The true cause of endometriosis is unknown, but there are a few widely accepted theories. If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, then you may have some questions about its causes, problems, and symptoms.

Endometriosis is common for many women of childbearing age. It is usually found when a woman has problems conceiving and seeks the help of an infertility specialist. Endometriosis occurs when cells and tissues similar to your uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. The cells and implants can grow on your uterus, ovaries, inside of your abdominal cavity, and on surrounding organs. Endometriosis can cause serious, even life-threatening problems when it is left untreated.

Symptoms of endometriosis include pain, from mild to severe, abnormal bleeding, and infertility. Some women have undetectable symptoms and the endometriosis goes undiagnosed and untreated until it is discovered through infertility treatments. The only way for endometriosis to be definitively diagnosed is through a laparoscopic surgery.

Laproscopy involves a small laparoscope being inserted through a small incision in your belly. The scope is a long tube that allows your doctor to look around your abdominal cavity. Your reproductive organs will be inspected and biopsies may be taken for study in the lab. Laparoscopic surgery is also used to remove endometrial implants, cysts and scar tissue.

Endometrial tissues are the same types of cells that your uterine lining is composed of. Therefore, the endometriosis reacts to hormones in much the same way that your uterus does. As hormonal signals tell your uterus to grow a lining, the endometriosis also grows. When hormonal changes cause the lining to shed, such as in menstruation, the endometriosis also sheds. This can cause considerable pain and even the pooling of blood. Implants can grow and interupt the function of the organs that are near it.

The most common consensus among experts concerning the cause of endometriosis is that uterine lining cells when shed, travelled up through the fallopian tubes instead of out through the cervix. The cells were expelled from the fallopian tubes into the abdominal cavity, where they implanted and grew. Most endometriosis implants are usually located on the outside of the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.

No matter what the cause, endometriosis is a serious condition that should not be ignored. It is a progressive disease that only gets worse until menopause. It will not get better on its own. Pain is not an indicator of how severe endometriosis is. Mild pain can occur with severe endometriosis while severe pain can occur with mild endometriosis. If you suspect that you may have endometriosis, do not hesitate to get a diagnosis and immediately begin treatment.
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