What is Endometriosis?

The endometrium is the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (womb). Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue is found anywhere outside the inner lining of the uterus. It is 'trapped' in the pelvic area and lower abdomen. Like the lining of the uterus, the endometrium grows under the influence of the major female hormone oestrogen.

The most commonly affected sites in the pelvis are the ovaries, uterosacral ligaments and the pouch of Douglas. The pouch of Douglas is an extension of the peritoneal cavity between the rectum and the back wall of the uterus. The uterosacral ligaments are rope like structures that help support the uterus in the pelvis. The bowel (especially the rectum) is sometimes affected. In such cases the lesions are usually found on the outside of the bowel but occasionally the lesions grow into the wall of the bowel as well. The bladder can be similarly affected.

Endometriosis can be found in other areas such as the skin and lungs resulting in cyclical bleeding.

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