Endometriosis, sometimes called "endo," is a common health problem in women. It gets its name from the word endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis happens when this tissue grows outside of your uterus and on other areas in your body where it doesn't belong.
Most often, endometriosis is found on the:
• Fallopian tubes
• Tissues that hold the uterus in place
• Outer surface of the uterus
Other sites for growths can include the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum. Rarely, endometriosis appears in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, and skin.
The cause of endometriosis is unknown. One theory is that the endometrial tissue is deposited in unusual locations by the backing up of menstrual flow into the Fallopian tubes and the pelvic and abdominal cavity during menstruation (termed retrograde menstruation). The cause of retrograde menstruation is not clearly understood. But retrograde menstruation cannot be the sole cause of endometriosis. Many women have retrograde menstruation in varying degrees, yet not all of them develop endometriosis.
Another possibility is that areas lining the pelvic organs possess primitive cells that are able to grow into other forms of tissue, such as endometrial cells. (This process is termed coelomic metaplasia.
Also, there is evidence that shows alternations in the immune response in women with endometriosis, which may affect the body's natural ability to recognize and destroy any misdirected growth of endometrial tissue.
• Very painful menstrual cramps. The pain may get worse over time.
• Chronic (long-term) pain in the lower back and pelvis.
• Pain during or after sex. This is usually described as a "deep" pain and is different from the pain felt at the entrance to the vagina when penetration begins.
• Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods. In rare cases, you may also find blood in your stool or urine.
• Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods. This can be caused by something other than endometriosis.
• Infertility, or not being able to get pregnant.
• Stomach (digestive) problems, these include, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.