Endometriosis is a common condition among women of reproductive age.
Endometriosis is normal uterine lining in an abnormal location. Every month as your egg develops, the cells around the egg (“granulosa cells”) make estrogen. This estrogen causes your uterine lining to thicken. When you ovulate, the granulosa cells undergo some changes that cause them to make both estrogen and progesterone to stabilize the uterine lining and prepare it for pregnancy. If you are not pregnant, estrogen and progesterone production stop and the uterine lining dies and comes out.
In 95% of women, some of the lining cells remain alive and – rather than progressing through the cervix and out, they flow backward through the Fallopian tubes.
They can then land on any of the pelvic organs (most commonly the ovaries, the intestine, or the lining of the abdominal cavity), they attach, and they continue to grow. Every month, as your normal uterine lining grows and then bleeds, the lining now in your abdomen or pelvis does essentially the same thing. These areas of endometriosis – called “implants” – get larger and larger and they also occasionally bleed.
Our Austin endometriosis specialists write the chapter on endometriosis that is used in medical school.
Studies in the literature suggest that somewhere between 25% and 45% of ALL women of reproductive age have it. The incidence in women with infertility is even higher – up to 65% in some studies. While most women erroneously believe that you must have severe symptoms, such as pain, in order to have endometriosis, in fact, this is not the case.
Unlike most other medical conditions in which the severity of the patient’s symptoms and the severity of the disease are related, this is not the case. Women with absolutely no symptoms can have severe disease. Conversely, women with excruciating pain may just have one little area of disease.
Many patients who we see at Texas Fertility Center are surprised to find out that the primary cause of their infertility is endometriosis. If you need help managing the pain and symptoms contact our Austin endometriosis specialists today.