Endometriosis is a condition found only in females. The endometrium is the inside lining of the uterine cavity. Endometriosis occurs when some of the lining gets out of the uterus through the fallopian tubes and deposits in the pelvis or abdominal cavity. This happens because the fallopian tubes open into the pelvic cavity. Normally, when an ovary releases an egg during ovulation, it goes to the fallopian tube which "catches it" and then the egg travels down the tube to the cavity of the uterus. But this tube can also allow parts of the uterine lining to escape into the pelvis.
Endometrial deposits can be found anywhere in the pelvis or abdomen. Most commonly they are found on the outside of the uterus or ovaries. They can also be found on the bowel, bladder, lining of the abdomen, and ligaments of the muscles of the abdominal wall. Rarely, they are seen as high as the diaphragm.
Symptoms of endometriosis include severe pain during or between periods and sometimes, pain with intercourse. Periods usually stay regular. Sometimes there is a low-grade fever and fatigue during a particular part of the menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis is diagnosed by a person's symptoms and what a doctor finds on the physical exam. The confirmation of endometriosis is only made during surgery, though, to actually see the deposits of the endometrium outside the uterus. This is often done laparoscopically, with a camera inserted into the abdomen, not with a full open surgery.
Surgery can also treat endometriosis. The surgeon can burn away the deposits of the endometriosis and this can be a cure! Other treatments include birth control pills or other hormones to suppress the activity of the endometrium.
Unfortunately, the endometriosis can recur, but typically resolves after menopause, because you don't have periods anymore.
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