Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to those that line the uterus grow in other areas of your body, especially around your ovaries and uterus. This condition affects about 10% of women of reproductive age.
Learn more about endometriosis symptoms, causes and complications.
When to get help
Causes of endometriosis
Can you prevent endometriosis?
The endometrial cells found outside the uterus grow to form patches that bleed and leak fluid around the time you have your period. This can lead to inflammation, scarring and lumps (nodules). The patches stay in different parts of your body, for example, the lining of your pelvis and abdomen, your upper abdomen, your abdominal wall or, more rarely, outside your pelvic area.
Endometriosis affects everyone differently. Pain is a common symptom of this condition.
The severity of symptoms is often related to the location of endometriosis, rather than the extent of the disease.
It’s common for women to experience a slow and steady progression of symptoms.
Endometriosis can cause different types of pain.
Some women with endometriosis experience other symptoms, including:
In this video, Jean Hailes gynaecologist Dr Elizabeth Farrell gives a brief overview of the symptoms, management and treatment options for endometriosis.
Most women with endometriosis have the same experience at menopause as other women. Menopause symptoms can range from no symptoms to severe symptoms.
But some women with endometriosis may experience increased pelvic pain in the lead-up to menopause. Your doctor can help you manage these symptoms if they develop – or return – at this stage of life. While uncommon, endometriosis can return with the use of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT).
Learn more about treatment options for endometriosis during the menopause transition.
In most cases, endometriosis symptoms will improve after menopause.
Talk to your doctor if your symptoms stop you from doing regular activities.
For example, if:
The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, but some factors may increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
When you have a period, blood flows out of your vagina. But it can also flow backwards along your fallopian tubes into your pelvis. In 90% of women, the blood, which contains endometrial cells, is absorbed or broken down. But in some women, endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, which can cause a range of symptoms.
Women who have a close relative (e.g. mother or sister) with endometriosis are seven to 10 times more likely to develop the condition.
If your immune system doesn’t stop the growth of endometrial tissue outside your uterus, you can develop endometriosis.
Endometriosis can’t be prevented, but your chances of developing the condition may decrease if:
The risk of endometriosis developing may also decrease with each pregnancy. This may be due to an increase in the progesterone hormone during pregnancy.
Endometriosis can affect different systems in the body. While pelvic pain is the most common symptom, women with endometriosis have a higher risk of other pain conditions, such as migraines and arthritis . Back, bladder and bowel pain, and associated conditions, are also common in women with endometriosis.
Women with this condition also have an increased risk of diseases such as uterine fibroids and adenomyosis.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that grow into the wall of the uterus.
Adenomyosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows into the muscle wall of the uterus.
Research shows that women with endometriosis have an increased risk of:
This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at January 2023.