Do I have endometriosis?

Endometriosis is common. The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain. Pain arises from the irritation of pelvic tissues (uterus, rectum, ovaries, tubes, bladder) which arises from the secretion of chemicals from the implants of endometriosis. How does it start? There are genetic predispositions, and possibly some increased risk in redheads.

The most common an most easily understood explanation is that most women have retrograde (back through the tubes) menstruation. This menstrual blood contains living endometrial cells from the inside lining of the uterus. These cells implant and grow in the areas around and behind the uterus. Initially they may appear clear, but eventually take on a blue-black "powder burn" appearance. They make your pelvis sore.

These implants respond to your monthly hormonal changes as the inside of your uterus does. The result is cramp pain, often radiating to the back or to one side. Cysts of endometriosis can occur in the ovary and are called endometriomas. Since the pelvis is sore, intercourse often is painful, especially around your period. Pain often occurs at ovulation as well. Mild endometriosis may be more painful than advanced endometriosis.

Eventually scar tissue forms between the tubes, ovaries, pelvic sidewalls, rectum and uterus. Many times it seems like someone poured glue into the pelvis. At this stage infertility is common. In early stages there seems to be little effect on fertility. Some women are more able to destroy the endometrial cells in the retrograde menstrual blood. These people often do not develop endometriosis.

With others whose immune functioning is different endometriosis may begin to develop in the teen age years.

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