Endometriosis is a common benign (noncancerous) chronic disorder of the female reproductive system. In women with endometriosis, some of the tissue normally found only in the lining the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) is also found in other parts of the pelvis. These clusters of abnormally located cells are known as endometrial implants.

Endometriosis is estimated to affect 11% of the general female population.1 While not life-threatening, it can be associated with severe pelvic pain that interferes with normal daily activities and diminishes quality of life. Many women suffer from the symptoms of endometriosis years before the diagnosis is made; in the US, it is estimated that it takes an average of 11.7 years of symptoms before a woman is diagnosed with endometriosis.2

Anatomy of the Reproductive System

The female reproductive system consists of the vagina, the uterus, the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. The endometrium is the lining of the uterine cavity, the central portion of the uterus (see diagram). If you become pregnant, the endometrium helps to nourish the growing fetus. If you are not pregnant, the endometrium breaks down and is shed monthly as menstrual blood. In endometriosis, clumps of endometrial tissue (implants) are found outside of the uterus, most commonly on the ovaries, in the spaces along the outside of the uterus, along the fallopian tubes and on the colon (large bowel) next to the uterus.


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