Endometriosis is when tissue is found outside the uterus that appears similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium). Endometriosis may grow on the outside of your uterus, ovaries, and tubes and even on your bladder or intestines. This tissue can irritate structures that it touches, causing pain and adhesions (scar tissue) on these organs.
“When the lining of the interior of the uterus called endometrial tissue grows abnormally outside the uterus, the condition is called endometriosis. Outgrowth is observed in areas such as your uterus, ovaries, tubes and on your bladder or intestines as well. This tissue can further irritate structures that it touches, causing pain and adhesions (scar tissue) on these organs,” explains Dr Gautam Allahbadia
, IVF specialist from mumbai.
Based on the extent, depth, severity of scar tissue, and the pertinent size of the endometrial implants (lesions found in ectopic locations) in the ovaries, endometriosis can be classified into four stages. The stages I and II are tagged as minimal, inferring to mild scarring and implants. Stages III and IV results in cysts formation and scarring, which might cause infertility and other pelvic related problems.
Does endometriosis lead to infertility?
If you have endometriosis, it may be more difficult for you to become pregnant. Up to 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis may experience infertility. Endometriosis can influence fertility in several ways: distorted anatomy of the pelvis, adhesions, scarred fallopian tubes, inflammation of the pelvic structures, altered immune system functioning, changes in the hormonal environment of the eggs, impaired implantation of a pregnancy, and altered egg quality.
In fact, 30% to 50% of infertile women have endometriosis. Sometimes, endometriosis can grow inside your ovary and form a cyst (endometrioma). This usually can be seen on ultrasound, unlike other endometriotic tissue. The only way to tell for certain if you have endometriosis is through a surgical procedure called laparoscopy.
According to Dr Gautam Allahbadia, women should consult their doctor if they experience the following symptoms that indicate endometriosis:
- Abdominal pain
- Irregular/ heavy menstruation, or painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Some women can even experience blotting in between the normal cycle.
- Painful/bloody urination
- Painful intercourse
- Bowel irritation
Endometriosis is often a hereditary condition. While a number of hormonal changes have been linked with the condition of endometriosis, it remains unclear as to which might contribute to the condition or which might simply result from it. A particular or combination of symptoms can direct towards the condition. “However, a thorough screening by your doctor is a must for the diagnosis of the condition,” says Dr Gautam Allahbadia.