Endometriosis is characterized by the presence of endometrial tissue (tissue that lines the uterus) outside of the uterine cavity (ectopic). The areas most commonly affected are the ovaries and fallopian tubes, however, "endometrial implants" have been found in most organ systems of the female body, with the exception of the heart and the spleen. Commonly affected areas include the vagina, the vulva, the urinary system, and the gastrointestinal tract. More rarely affected are the lungs and diaphragm, the skin and the central nervous system.
Endometriosis is a progressive disease affecting approximately 10-15% of women, usually of childbearing age. Women are usually 25 to 29 years of age at the time of diagnosis especially if the primary symptom is pain. Women whose symptoms are related to infertility may not be diagnosed until later.
The cause of endometriosis is not well understood but there are several theories to explain its development.
Treatment goals and decisions are dictated by the woman's desire for reproduction. The goals of care for a woman who desires pregnancy (currently or in the future) are to preserve reproductive function. The goal for a woman who has completed childbearing is the minimization of discomfort and prevention of further complications.
Treatment methods include medications and surgery.
The Medifocus Guide on Endometriosis provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of endometriosis?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing endometriosis?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of endometriosis?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of endometriosis?
What treatment options are available for the management of endometriosis?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in endometriosis?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for endometriosis?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about endometriosis?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Implantation defect in endometriosis: endometrium or peritoneal fluid. Journal of Reproduction & Fertility - Supplement. 2000
The pathophysiology of endometriosis-associated infertility: follicular environment and embryo quality. Journal of Reproduction & Fertility - Supplement. 2000
Medical management of endometriosis and infertility. Fertility & Sterility. 2000
Extracts from the "clinical evidence". Endometriosis. BMJ. 2000
Endometriosis-associated intestinal tumors: a clinical and pathological study of 6 cases with a review of the literature. Human Pathology. 2000
Umbilical endometriosis after unprotected removal of uterine pieces through the umbilicus. 2000
Progestagens and anti-progestagens for pain associated with endometriosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Modern combined oral contraceptives for pain associated with endometriosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Ovulation suppression for endometriosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues for pain associated with endometriosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
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