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Endometriosis

What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis is a gynecological disorder characterized by growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. This ectopic tissue can be found on ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterosacral ligaments, pelvic tissues, and the gastrointestinal tract. Rarely, it may also be found in the pleura, pericardium, and CNS. Endometriosis affects over 11% of women of reproductive age and may be diagnosed in 35-50% of women suffering from pelvic pain or infertility. The condition is most often seen in women of Asian descent, and the least in those of African descent.

What Causes Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is caused by the implantation of endometrial cells in locations outside of the uterine cavity. The mechanism by which this implantation occurs is not yet definitively understood. However, current research has proposed several possible explanations.

The previously accepted theory regarding the retrograde outflow of menstrual blood carrying endometrial cells to the peritoneal cavity is now thought to be only one aspect. Other factors may include an abnormal local immune functioning that results in a dysfunction of the mechanism in place to prevent implantation, or infiltration of the lymphatic system by endometrial cells. Alternative hypotheses have also been proposed, such as metaplasia of the parietal peritoneum epithelium or Mullerian remnant stem cells mimicking endometrial tissue. 

 Symptoms of Endometriosis

  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Pain in atypical locations such as the pelvis, sacral region of the spine, or pain radiating to the back.
  • Pain throughout the menstrual cycle, not just during menstruation
  • Prolonged menstrual period
  • Dyspareunia
  • Pain with defecation or urination
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Mood changes, such as depression and anxiety

Source: Smolarz, B., Szyłło, K., & Romanowicz, H. (2021). Endometriosis: Epidemiology, Classification, Pathogenesis, Treatment and Genetics (Review of Literature). International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(19), 10554. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms221910554