What it is: Each month, the endometrial tissue normally builds up in the uterus. This tissue and blood is shed as your monthly period. Endometriosis occurs when this tissue grows outside of the uterus.
What it looks like: Bumps, scars, or fluid-filled sacs called cysts.
Cause: No one knows exactly what causes endometriosis.
Where it grows: It mostly grows in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvic areas: on or under the ovaries, on the bowels or bladder, behind the uterus, on the tissues that hold the uterus in place. When endometrial tissue is outside your uterus, this tissue is still shed monthly. But because this tissue is not where it is supposed to be, it can’t leave a woman’s body the way a woman’s period normally does. These areas may hurt nearby tissues and can damage your organs.
- Very painful cramps or periods
- Heavy periods
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Lower back pain
- Intestinal pain
- Pain during or after sex
- Can’t get pregnant
- Painful bowel movements (BM) or pain passing urine during your period
- Stomach problems
- Medical history
- Pelvic exam
- Physical exam
- Tests that create a “picture” of the inside of your body (ultrasound)
- Laparoscopy—surgery when your doctor places a small tube with a light inside your abdomen to see if you have endometriosis
- Pain medicine
- Hormone therapy