Endometriosis is the presence of functioning endometrial glands and stroma (supporting tissue) outside of the uterine cavity (womb).
Endometriosis may affect 25-35% of infertile women, the average age of diagnosis is between 25-29yrs and the common symptoms are pain and infertility although it can also be asymptomatic.
The cause is unknown but some theories include retrograde menstruation, , a transformation of some cells in the pelvis to endometrial type tissue, altered immune function (Immunologic Theory) and induction from unknown substances, maybe environmental substances inducing immature cell lines to develop into endometrial cells .Interestingly, dioxin, a known industrial pollutant is present in higher amounts in women with endometriosis versus control subjects. (Mayani, Hum Reprod 12(2):373 1997
Endometriosis may cause cysts, nodules, flat or only microscopic lesions and may give rise to pain including severe dysmennorhea (painful periods), fallopian tube obstruction and bowel and bladder symptoms.
Surgical treatment is possible but is associated with a high recurrence rate. For infertility treatment IVF is ususally considered the better option.