Endometriosis is the process of the inner lining of the uterus—called the endometrium, which is typically shed during a menstrual period through the vagina—leaving fragments of endometrium in other places in the woman’s body.
These fragments may develop on:
• the ovaries
• the fallopian tubes
• the vagina
• the peritoneum
• the intestine
In many cases, endometriosis has no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include:
• Extremely painful menstrual cramps
• Pain during sex
• Difficulty becoming pregnant
• Abnormal or heavy bleeding during periods
• Abdominal cramps or back pain during menstruation
• Painful bowel movements
Mild forms of endometriosis are common and may not require treatment. However, more severe cases can make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant. The severity of the symptoms has no bearing on how severe the disease is to a woman’s body. For example, patients with a mild variation of the disease may have severe symptoms while those with a more severe disease may not experience as significant of symptoms.
Any woman who has menstrual periods can get endometriosis. There are no specific risk factors. However, it does occur most commonly in women between the ages of 25 and 40, but has been known to occur in younger and older women, as well.