This is a frequent disorder that affects 10% of the female population but is not life-threatening. The exact cause of this disorder is not known and it is associated with disorders of the immunobiological system. Endometriosis is characterised by the development of ectopic endometrium, usually in the peritoneal cavity, which affects the woman’s fertility mechanically (development of haemorrhagic cysts or adhesions) or biologically (immunobiological disorders in the abdominal area).
The diagnosis is made after laparoscopy, during which the sites of the endometrial tissue are identified and the extent of the damage is assessed. The surgery may be combined with treatment manipulations, such as destruction of the endometriosis sites with diathermy or treatment of any eventual adhesions.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, painful and occasionally heavy and irregular menstruation. It can cause pain during or after sexual intercourse. Often, the pain is associated with the intestine, the bladder, the waist and the inside of the thighs. The pain may be continuous or may appear (and/or worsen) before or during menstruation. However, it does not always manifest with pain; there are many “silent” cases with no symptoms.
Unfortunately, endometriosis may cause infertility in several different ways, depending on its severity. It can affect ovulation or egg quality; cause blocking of the fallopian tubes; prevent embryo implantation (adenomyosis). Endometriosis does not cause an increase in miscarriages.
Beyond reproduction, there are several treatments to relieve the pain and improve the quality of life of women with endometriosis. As was mentioned, there are surgical interventions and also hormonal therapy, treatment with analgesics, or alternative treatments.