Endometriosis

Last Updated: August 16 2022

In endometriosis, uterine-lining-like tissue grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be symptom-free, but often leads to pain and infertility.

Endometriosis falls under theWomen’s HealthandPaincategories.

What is endometriosis?

In endometriosis, tissue similar to the uterus’s lining (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be a painful condition, especially during menstruation, and endometriosis can impair fertility. However, some people with endometriosis don’t experience any pain from it.

What are the main signs and symptoms of endometriosis?

The main symptoms are pain and infertility.[1] Some of the common symptoms that people with endometriosis may experience are the following: painful periods (dysmenorrhea); pain during or after sex; pain while urinating or defecating; unusually heavy periods or bleeding between periods; infertility; and fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods. It’s possible for people with endometriosis to experience all, some, or none of these symptoms. Some people with endometriosis may experience atypical symptoms, like back pain, chest pain, leg pain, rectal bleeding, or acid reflux.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis has a wide symptom range, and needs to be diagnosed by a doctor; the gold standard for diagnosis is laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery).

What are some of the main medical treatments for endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition requiring long-term treatment which focuses on symptom management. Symptoms can be managed medically through surgery to remove endometriotic tissues, and through long-term medication for hormonal management.[2] Surgery isn’t considered a cure, because endometriosis tissue may return after surgery; however, removing it can reduce painful symptoms in the short term, and hormonal treatment can delay the tissue’s regrowth.[3] Endometriosis-impaired fertility can be addressed by assisted reproduction techniques, such as IVF.

Have any supplements been studied for endometriosis?

Several vitamins and supplements have been studied, including vitamin-d,[4] melatonin,[5] vitamin-e and vitamin-c.[6]

How could diet affect endometriosis?

Multiple studies have investigated the relationship between diet and endometriosis. There is weak evidence that a healthy diet, with reduced alcohol intake and increased physical activity, is associated with a lower risk of getting endometriosis.[7]

Are there any other treatments for endometriosis?

Some people may find that some of their symptoms of endometriosis, such as painful menstruation, can be non-medically managed. Some people with endometriosis develop chronic pelvic pain, which may be manageable with pelvic physiotherapy and myofascial trigger point dry needling.[2]

What causes endometriosis?

The endometrium is the lining of the uterus. Endometriosis is caused by endometrium-like cells growing outside the uterus, usually accompanied by inflammation.[7] Researchers haven’t yet pinned down exactly why this happens.[8]

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