It is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus – the endometrium – grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.
With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would – it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions – abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.
Endometriosis can cause pain – sometimes severe – especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with your menstrual period. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual period, women with endometriosis typically describe the menstrual pain that’s far worse than usual. They also tend to report that the pain increases over time.
Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis may include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea).Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period and extend several days into your period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
- Pain with intercourse.Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination.You’re most likely to experience these symptoms during your period.
- Excessive bleeding.You may experience occasional heavy periods (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- Endometriosis is first diagnosed in some women who are seeking treatment for infertility.
- Other symptoms.You may also experience fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
- The severity of your pain isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of the extent of the condition. Some women with mild endometriosis have intense pain, while others with advanced endometriosis may have little pain or even no pain at all.
Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis.
The uterus is ultra-elastic
When not in use, a healthy uterus is a small organ, measuring about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. During pregnancy, that changes – fast. By about 20 weeks into pregnancy, the expanding uterus reaches all the way to the navel. The outer edge of the uterus reaches the lower edge of the rib cage by about 36 weeks.
Uterus didelphys or Double Uterus
In a very rare condition called uterus didelphys, some women are born with not one, but two uteruses. This happens as the reproductive system is forming in the fetus; the uterus starts out as two tubes that join together to form one organ. When the tubes fail to fuse, each turns into its own uterus. Sometimes the vagina is duplicated, too, creating a forked path to each uterus. In many cases, the condition is symptom-free, though unusual menstrual bleeding or fertility troubles can be hints that something isn’t right.