Endometriosis is an often painful condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus and on organs in the abdomen or pelvis.
Overview and Symptoms
With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would – responding to hormones, it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. But because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions.
Endometriosis can cause pain—sometimes severe—especially during your period.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, including:
- Cramping and pelvic pain, especially just before and during menstrual bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Lower back pain
- Pain during bowel movements or urination
Diagnosis may include pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, and in some cases, laparoscopy – a procedure that allows the surgeon to view inside your abdomen to look for endometrial tissue outside the uterus.
Treatment for endometriosis depends on the severity of your symptoms and your long-term goals, including whether you hope to become pregnant. Your team will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include:
- Hormone therapy
- Integrative therapies such as acupuncture
- Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery to remove endometriosis tissue while preserving uterus and ovaries
- Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) and ovaries (oophorectomy)
Learn MoreThe Center for Endometriosis and Complex Pelvic Pain at BIDMC specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with suspected or known endometriosis.