Endometriosis Frequently Asked Questions

What causes endometriosis?
Each month a woman's ovaries produce hormones that stimulate the cells of the uterine lining (endometrium) to multiply and prepare for a fertilized egg. If these cells, called endometrial cells, implant and grow outside the uterus, endometriosis results.

 

Who gets endometriosis?
Endometriosis typically affects women during their reproductive years from the onset of her first period to the time of menopause. The prevalence of endometriosis in the general population is approximately 10 percent; however, the prevalence is higher in symptomatic patients. Endometriosis has been reported in up to 50 percent of women with infertility and 70 percent of women and adolescents with pelvic pain.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis vary from woman to woman. Some women with severe cases of endometriosis have no pain at all, while other women with mild endometriosis have severe pain. Common symptoms include:

  • Painful periods
  • Pelvic pain and cramping before or after your period
  • Lower back and abdominal pain
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination 
  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods

  
Are there risk factors for Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common problem that can begin any time after your first period. Possible risk factors for endometriosis include:

  • Mother or sister with endometriosis
  • Starting menstruation at an early age
  • Frequent menstrual cycles
  • Periods lasting seven or more days

How does endometriosis affect fertility?
When endometrial tissue builds up inside your body, it can disrupt the normal reproductive process. For example:

  • Fluid-filled cysts called endometriomas may form in your ovaries. These cysts can rupture, damaging your ovarian tissue or interfering with ovulation.
  • Scar tissue can block one or more of your fallopian tubes. This makes it impossible for sperm to reach an egg released by your ovary.
  • Fertility naturally decreases with age, even in healthy women. If you are older than 35 years old or have diminished ovarian reserve, having endometriosis can make it that much harder to get pregnant.