ZocdocAnswersWhat is endometriosis?

Question

What is endometriosis?

I'm 31 and I was having pain and irregular menstrual bleeding before I got diagnosed as having endometriosis. I didn't at all understand the doctor's description or the websites I've found. In plain english, what is endometriosis and what does it mean for me to have it?

Answer

Endometriosis can present as different symptoms and often times can be diagnosed by a family practitioner, general internist and more accurately by a gynecologist. Endometriosis, the word is derived from greek, meaning "inside the womb." The womb is the part of the female anatomy that contains the fertilized egg or the embryo. The embryo eventually becomes the baby. Normally the womb or uterus is made of cells that are called "endometrial cells". These cells line the inside of the womb and serves as a cellular layer to prevent the uterus from sticking to itself. It also allows the egg to properly implant into the womb. Endometriosis means that these normal endometrial cells which are supposed to be confined to the Uterus, are found in ANY place outside of the uterus such as in you ovaries or abdominal cavity. The endometrial cells are very responsive to female hormones and tend to proliferate during a woman's period. Problems associated with endometriosis can involve pain with sex, pain with defecation, pain with periods and pain with urination. In order to come to a diagnosis of endometriosis it is important to be evaluated by a gynecologist to discuss diagnostic tests and further management.

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