Endometriosis: fast facts
- Endometriosis is the name of a condition that is caused by tissue from the lining of the womb (known as the endometrium) escaping into the body cavity (mainly within the pelvis) and attaching itself to other organs.
- The tissue continues to respond to the menstrual cycle and bleeds every month, causing irritation and inflammation.
- Endometriosis plays a major part in women’s fertility problems. It’s estimated that 30-40 per cent of women who have a laparoscopy to investigate infertility are found to have endometriosis.
- Women in their 20s and 30s are most likely to have the condition, but any woman past puberty and before menopause is susceptible.
- Research into the condition suggests that up to 10 per cent of women who are pre-menopausal have the condition, with a higher rate in women who are infertile.
- Risks associated with developing endometriosis include a short menstrual cycle (more frequent periods), heavy bleeding and periods that last for 7 or more days.
- If you got your first period at an earlier-than-average age, you are also more likely to get endometriosis.
- If your mother or sister has endometriosis you have an increased risk of getting endometriosis.
- Women that have a family history of endometriosis are also more likely to have severe endometriosis.
- Having a baby will not cure endometriosis. It is suppressed during pregnancy, but the symptoms may recur.
- Symptoms include pain before and during your period (worse than normal cramps); pain during and after sex; heavier than normal bleeding and possibly diarrhoea and/or constipation; constant fatigue; and lower back pain with your period.
Treatment depends on a number of factors, but a combination of treatments can control the condition. Your doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
Last Reviewed: 27 March 2001