What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disorder in which the endometrial tissue, or the inner lining of the uterus, migrates to areas outside the uterus, most commonly the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.  The endometrial tissue is the same tissue that thickens throughout the menstrual cycle and sheds (bleeds) causing the menstrual period.  When this process occurs outside the uterus, the blood has nowhere to go causing pain in the pelvic region and sometimes cysts or adhesions.

The symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, heavy menstrual periods, bleeding between periods and infertility.  Because many other conditions can cause these symptoms, endometriosis is often difficult to diagnose.  The causes of endometriosis are uncertain, but it does tend to run in families, and having children likely reduces the risk of endometriosis.  Treatment for endometriosis ranges from symptom management with pain medication and hormone therapy such as oral contraceptives to surgical treatment.  Conservative surgery involves removing the misplaced endometrial tissue while preserving the uterus.  In severe cases and in cases where women are not hoping to reproduce in the future, a hysterectomy may be performed.  Endometriosis is not the same as endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the uterine lining, although the two conditions do share many similar symptoms, often allowing for early detection of endometrial cancer.

Resources at Northwestern for Treatment of Endometriosis:

The Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern Memorial Hospital provides comprehensive gynecologic services from some of the best Chicago gynecologic clinicians.  The hospital provides gynecological services that span a woman’s lifetime from well woman care, routine examinations and screenings to contraceptive management, menopause-related care, and incontinence and bladder care.

To request a first-time appointment, call 1-877-926-4664 or go online at http://ww2.nmh.org/contact/request_appointment/new_patient

Research at Northwestern in Endometriosis:

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine is comprised of eleven different divisions pertaining to women’s obstetric and gynecological health.  The department has several full-time research faculty whose research projects focus on an array of disorders including endometriosis, gynecological cancers, HIV, and maternal-fetal health.  With over 50 current research projects and 4 active clinical trials, the department is a dynamic leader in women’s gynecological research.

For more information on clinical trials through the Department of OB/Gyn, see their website at http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/obgyn/research/clinical-trials/

IWHR Highlighted Researcher:

Serdar E. Bulun, MD is the Director of the Division of Reproductive Biology Research and Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.   Dr. Bulun’s translational research interests are focused on estrogen biosynthesis and metabolism in diseases such as breast cancer, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis.  Specifically Dr. Bulun has studied aromatase expression in these hormone-related diseases and is responsible for the introduction of aromatase inhibitors as a treatment for endometriosis.  His translational research in endometriosis and fibroids has made a significant contribution both to the body of research in obstetric and gynecological disorders and to the health of millions of women suffering from these conditions.  Since his seminal paper in 1996, more than 300 articles have been published in the area of aromatase and endometriosis; this exceptional achievement earned him a NIH-MERIT award in 2010.  His current focus in endometriosis research is on retinoid production and action.  Dr. Bulun is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, and the Society for Gynecologic Investigation and has served on the editorial boards of several prestigious journals including the Endocrine Reviews and is the U.S. Editor for the Journal of Molecular Endocrinology.

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Comments

Thank you for great post on endometriosis, it should be talked more about this infertility issue, all the best , Nancy

Very informative post. Just would like to throw in that knowledge is power. Many women don’t realize something is wrong until it is more serious. My suggestion is to keep up with the research

Your post the first one I read all day that was informative and straight to the point. Thank you.

I agree with previous comment regarding endometriosis and how it should be talked more often. I think when you look at the numbers/statistics with women and endometriosis, you wonder why their isn’t much attention regarding this health issue. I personally know 9 women with endometriosis and that’s only in my little world circle of life.

My sister suffered from Endometriosis for 10 years before it was discovered. Very painful watching her go through test after test to not find anything wrong... Most of the time she was balled up crying from the pain. Finally she found a doctor that could help her and she is pain free...

This is a great post about basics of endometriosis. Many women may or may not have endometriosis symptoms and can go undiagnosed until they are having severe pain and/or bleeding. Endometriosis is also a leading cause of infertility. Once the condition has been established there is many treatments that can help. This is a great start to learn more information.

I agree with previous comment regarding endometriosis and how it should be talked more often. I think when you look at the numbers/statistics with women and endometriosis, you wonder why their isn't much attention regarding this health issue. I personally know 9 women with endometriosis and that's only in my little world circle of life. Lindsey

Is there a direct link between estrogen dominance and endometriosis? If so, isn't there a way of treating this other than ablation or synthetic medications.

Thanks for this post. My sister-in-law suffered terribly from endometriosis before she knew what it really was. I wish this got more attention from the media. Thanks for all your dedication and work.

Thank you for great post on endometriosis, it should be talked more about this infertility issue,

Is there a direct link between estrogen dominance and endometriosis? If so, isn’t there a way of treating this other than ablation or synthetic medications.

A really enlightening article on endometriosis.I think it should be talked more often as it is the only way through which we will be able to create awareness about it.Thumbs up Keep up the good work:)

My sister-in-law suffered terribly from endometriosis before she knew what it really was. I wish this got more attention from the media. Thanks for all your dedication and work.

This is a great post about basics of endometriosis. Many women may or may not have endometriosis symptoms and can go undiagnosed until they are having severe pain and/or bleeding.

Hi there! Some women are going through so much emotional stress because of this predicament. This is especially true for working women. I have a friend who couldn't stand up for at least 2 days because of the pain and even the husband not knowing about this ailment thinks that she's just being a "baby". I'll be sending her this link and hope that this informative article would help her decide what to do. Thanks!

I hadn't heard of Endometriosis until recently when I found out that two women friends who suffered from it. They had terrible pain which GPs took a long time to detect. The level of ignorance among the medical profession about this condition is what I found most surprising.

Endometriosis is one of the causes of infertility, and other ailments, that is not mentioned too often. Wonderful that you have brought attention to this through your awareness report, as it seems to fly under the radar with all the attention going towards heart disease and cancer nowadays. This is one such topic that deserves to be brought into women's awareness, so good job on your part.

It's my first time to encounter endometriosis..and as a woman it's always good to know about these things before it's too late. thanks for the info and links

Endometriosis runs in my family and so far, I've done what little research I could to present info to my relatives. This is a great cause and I hope that in the future more awareness can be brought to this condition. Thank you for an excellent resource.

Thanks for this post. I had a friend who mentioned Endometriosis to me a few days ago and I was sure what it was. I did a bit of research and that is how I found this post. Thanks a lot.

My wife had some issues with this. It was easily taken care of by laser surgery. It,s good that she can still have kids because we are still under 35 and want kids. Thank you for this post I remember I did not know what this condition was initially and I am sure this will help many on here.

I'm glad I found this bit of information. My daughter had to do a paper for class about endometriosis; she chose the topic because a family member had been diagnosed, at least that's what we "think" it was. Nice to have informative blogs like yours. Wonderful.

Thank you for the enlightening article. I sometimes get asked for advice from the parents of my patients and this one more thing I am now aware of that I can make a referral to a specialist for.

One treatment that seems to be effective is myofascial pain neutralization method. We use it for women with pelvic and abdominal pain and are getting surprisingly good results.

I think its great that you guys provide treatment for incontinence and bladder care. Its a big problem for females and most of the public don't know it exists. Many people laugh when they 1st hear about it but don't realize the stuggles real people go through. Good job.

I have a relative who tried the below technique and it does provide some relief. "One treatment that seems to be effective is myofascial pain neutralization method. We use it for women with pelvic and abdominal pain and are getting surprisingly good results."

Endometriosis is a top problem in women who have trouble conceiving. My great-aunt had it in the days when there was nothing that could be done, and was unable to have children because of it. Fortunately, she was a second mother to me, my brother, my mother, and my uncle. We adored her. There are treatments available now, but many women don't know about them, or don't even know they have endometriosis. It's wonderful to get the word out, because knowing can help more women start their families, once they get treatment (and discover whether they have it).

Endometriosis definitely needs an awareness month. On the one hand, we hear very little about it in the media, and on the other hand, everyone of us probably knows someone who struggles with it.

I've read that most women who have endometriosis, in fact, do not have symptoms. But, of those who do experience symptoms, the most common symptoms are pain in the pelvic and infertility. I still don't know why they lead to infertility?

Thanks for this information, I had heard of Endometriosis but was unaware of how it can effect you.

Thanks for this informative post Michelle. It's my first time to hear this kind of disorder, the endometriosis. This should be introduced to the public especially to women out there, coz I know they don't have any idea about this. Are there successful operations for this disorder or medicines to treat this? EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes there are treatment options.

When you have Endometriosis or alternatively have an acquaintance who, and are taking into account which has a total or alternatively general hysterectomy, actually important that you will discover extra treatment decisions first and foremost. The most efficient procedure you can easily bring is to always confer with your doctor in regard to your choices to ascertain which ones are right for you.

I have to show some appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this type of scenario. Right after looking through the world wide web and meeting recommendations which are not productive, I assumed my entire life was over. Being alive without the presence of solutions to the difficulties you've solved all through this write-up is a serious case, as well as ones which might have badly damaged my entire career if I had not come across the website. Your personal training and kindness in controlling the whole thing was excellent. I don't know what I would've done if I hadn't come upon such a step like this. I am able to at this time relish my future. Thank you very much for the high quality and amazing guide. I won't be reluctant to refer the website to anyone who will need care about this matter.

Has anyone heard that the surgery to remove endometrial tissue may cause a recurring problem that might be worse than the original symptoms? I have heard people talk about having a surgery and then needing surgery again to remove more tissue soon after their first operation

Thank you SO much for the information. My daughter struggles with this. I am going to forward to her. Scott

It saddens me that my sister is affected with endometriosis. We are all worried for her chance of getting pregnant. We remain to be hopeful that everything will still be okay.

Michelle, my mother had Endometriosis and so do I. She enured the pain because either she wasn't aware of any options, or there were none available yet. I have serious pain during my periods and can't function for at least a day. So my OBGYN put me on Seasonique and it's somewhat better, but it only prolongs my periods for 45-60 days, never 90 days. Thanks, Nicole

My wife just recently went through this surgery, performed by a local specialist. It was very non-invasive and went extremely well. There are definitely good options out there today.

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