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The endometrium is the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis is a disorder when the tissue similar to the endometrium grows outside the uterus and on the other areas of the body.

The following post discusses endometriosis and pregnancy and how the condition impacts fertility, pregnancy, and the baby.

Endometriosis is most commonly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, and on the tissues that hold the uterus in its place. It may also appear on the vagina, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum. It rarely appears on other body parts such as skin, lungs, or brain. It is believed to affect more than 11% of women between the ages 15 and 44.

Causes Of Endometriosis

The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown. However, some possible factors that may cause endometriosis in women are:

. Retrograde menstruation: It is characterized by some endometrial tissue flowing up through the fallopian tubes and embedding on to the organs in the pelvis instead of leaving the body as a menstrual flow.

. Problems with the immune system: A weak immune system may not identify and destroy endometrial tissue that grows outside the uterus. As a result, women with endometriosis may present with certain cancers and immune system disorders.

. Hormones: High estrogenilevels can promote endometriosis. However, more research is needed to establish the role of a woman’s hormone system in causing endometriosis.

. Surgery: Endometrial tissue may be picked up and can be moved to other areas accidentally during an abdominal surgery such as a hysterectomy or cesarean section (C-section), leading to endometriosis.

. Bodily fluids: Endometrial cells may also spread to the woman’s body through blood or lymph.

Risk Factors For Endometriosis

The following are the suspected risk factors for endometriosis:

  • Family history
  • Early menarche
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days)
  • Long periods (longer than one week)
  • Allergies, such as food allergies, eczema, or hay fever
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to toxins

Symptoms Of Endometriosis

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from one woman to another. While some women may have hardly noticeable symptoms, other women might experience severe pain that can hamper going to school or work. The symptoms of endometriosis may include:

  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Pelvic pain (pain in lower tummy or back) that usually worsens during periods
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Ovulation pain
  • Pain in the lower back or thighs
  • Pain while using bowel (bowel symptoms)
  • Pain while peeing (bladder symptoms)
  • Reduced fertility
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Premenstrual symptoms
  • Feeling sick or experiencing constipation, diarrhea, or bloody urine during periods.
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Problems with conception

Endometriosis may also lead to feelings of depression in women.

Stages Of Endometriosis

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, endometriosis is classified into the following stages based on the location, amount, depth, and size of endometrial tissue.

Stage 1
(1-5 points)
  • Minimal
  • Less superficial implants
Stage 2
(6-15 points)
  • Mild
  • More and deeper implants
Stage 3
(16-40 points)
  • Moderate
  • Several deep implants
  • Small cystsion one or both ovaries
  • Presence of filmy adhesions
Stage 4
(>40 points)
  • Severe
  • Several deep implants
  • Large-sized cysts on one or both ovaries
  • Several dense adhesions

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