Endometriosis, a cause of female infertility, is a condition
in which endometrial tissue, the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside the uterus and attaches to other
organs in the abdominal cavity such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis is a progressive disease that tends
to get worse over time and can reoccur after treatment. Symptoms include painful menstrual periods, abnormal menstrual bleeding
and pain during or after sexual intercourse.
The endometrial tissue outside your uterus responds to your menstrual
cycle hormones the same way the tissue inside your uterus responds - it swells and thickens, then sheds to mark the beginning
of the next cycle. The blood that is shed from the endometrial tissue in your abdominal cavity has no place to go, resulting
in pools of blood causing an inflammation that forms scar tissue. The scar tissue can block the fallopian tubes or interfere
with ovulation. Another result of endometriosis is the formation of ovarian cysts called endometrioma that may also interfere
The cause of endometriosis is unknown though there are a few theories that suggest possible causes.
One theory suggests that during menstruation, some of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen
where it implants and grows. Another theory indicates that it is a genetic birth abnormality in which endometrial cells develop
outside the uterus during fetal development.
A laparoscopy, an outpatient surgical procedure, is necessary to confirm
a diagnosis of endometriosis after a medical history review and pelvic exam. After the initial diagnosis, your physician will
classify your condition as stage 1 (minimal), stage 2 (mild), stage 3 (moderate) or stage 4 (extensive) based on the amount
of scarring and diseased tissue found. Based on the stage of endometriosis, your physician will determine the best treatment
plan for you which may include medication or surgery, or a combination of both.