Endometriosis is a common disorder of the female reproductive organs and is the leading cause of chronic pelvic pain in women.
- In women who have endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium)
develops in other areas of the body, most commonly within the pelvic area or the abdominal cavity. The endometrial tissue may attach itself to the ovaries, the outside of the uterus, the intestines, or other abdominal organs.
Rarely, endometriosis occurs outside the abdominal cavity, such as in the brain or lungs. Endometriosis may also develop in surgical scars following surgery on pelvic organs. The term
"implant" is used to refer to a specific area of endometriosis in a certain tissue.
- It is estimated that over 5.5 million American women will experience problems with endometriosis, but an exact determination of the number of women affected is difficult, since many women may have the condition and do not have symptoms. In other
situations, women may also have symptoms that could be attributed to endometriosis, but never undergo formal diagnostic studies to confirm that the condition is present. Most women who are diagnosed with endometriosis are between 25 and 35 years of age. Women may have symptoms for years before a definitive diagnosis is made.
- During pelvic surgery for any gynecologic condition, about 1% of women are
observed to have endometriosis. The percentages are much higher in young women
undergoing laparoscopic surgery for pelvic pain and in women undergoing
laparoscopic surgery to evaluate infertility.
- Endometriosis is more common in Caucasian women than in African American or Asian women. Studies have also reported that endometriosis tends to occur most commonly in taller, thin women with a low
body mass index (BMI).
- Women with first degree relatives who have endometriosis are also more
likely to develop the condition, suggesting that the genes a woman inherits
from her parents can sometimes predispose her to develop endometriosis.
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