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Endometriosis

In endometriosis, uterine-lining-like tissue grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be symptom-free, but often leads to pain and infertility. It's a chronic condition that requires long-term treatment.

Our evidence-based analysis on endometriosis features 7 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Summary of Endometriosis

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?

A: The main symptoms are pain and infertility.[1] Some of the common symptoms that people with endometriosis may experience are: 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.

The severity of the symptoms doesn’t necessarily reflect the extent of the endometriotic growths. People with extensive growths may experience few symptoms, and people with relatively less endometriotic tissue may experience severe pain. Some people with endometriosis may experience atypical symptoms, like back pain, chest pain, leg pain, or acid reflux. With such a wide symptom range, endometriosis needs to be diagnosed by a doctor; the gold standard for diagnosis is laparoscopy.

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 that requires long-term treatment. Treatment 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.[4] 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] and vitamins E and C.[6]

What’s the connection between diet and 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]

Things to Note

Do Not Confuse With

dysmenorrhea, endomitosis, endometritis

Click here to see all 7 references.