(Traci S. Johnson/ Web MD) –– Endometriosis is a common and painful disease that affects about 5.5 million women in North America and is one of the top three causes of infertility in women.
During a normal menstrual cycle, the lining of your uterus — called the endometrium — begins to thicken in preparation for becoming pregnant. If you don’t become pregnant that month, your body sheds the endometrium during menstruation and the process starts over. In endometriosis, for reasons that researchers don’t entirely understand, tissue very similar to the endometrium begins to grow outside the uterus in various places that it shouldn’t.
It can appear in or on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the various structures that support the uterus, and the lining of the pelvic cavity. Sometimes, it’s found in other places as well, including the cervix, vagina, rectum, bladder, bowel, and elsewhere. (…)