The tissue that surrounds the uterus is called an endometrium. Each month, a part of the endometrium grows and swells because of the blood and then is excreted during menstruation. In disease called endometriosis, endometrial parts are developed elsewhere – in the wall of the uterus, ovaries, or (more rarely) in the fallopian tubes, vagina, intestines and even in the scars that form in the gastrointestinal walls after the surgery.
Each month, these parts of the endometrium bleed, but since they are located in the parts (of the body) the blood from them can not flow. This causes a formation of bubbles (filled with blood) that irritate the surrounding tissue and cause scarring therein, and formation of fibrous cysts around the bladder.
In most cases there are no symptoms, or the symptoms so mild that they the patient may not even notice them, so no treatment is needed. Symptoms that do occur are persistent abdominal or back pain during menstruation; the pain usually worsens at the end of the menstrual period. In some cases, menstruation is abnormally abundant (see menorrhagia article), and the pain is also possible during the intercourse.
Since endometriosis is associated with menstruation, it can only occur in the age of sexual maturity. It is most common in women aged between 30 and 40 years, and it is more frequent among women who did not give birth. A mild form of endometriosis is common, while the severe cases that require treatment are very rare.
What to do?
If you experience painful menstruation (see description of the symptoms), contact your doctor. He may refer you to a gynecologist, and the gynecologist will probably perform dilation and laparoscopy before making a definitive diagnosis.
Your doctor may prescribe combinations of estrogenic progestogenic contraceptive pills, which should alleviate the symptoms. If the condition is serious, you will take medicines or high doses of hormones, which will stop your menstruation for several months; this will allow the body to get rid of abnormal tissue.
If endometriosis has affected the ovaries, the disease is treated with the operative removal of bladder or cysts, as in ovarian cysts. In severe cases that do not respond to therapy, your doctor may advise you a removal of the uterus – especially if you no longer intend to give birth.