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Hysterectomy and endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells that line the uterus grows outside of the uterus in other areas, such as the ovaries. The condition can interfere with a woman's fertility and ability to become pregnant. Endometriosis can also cause severe pelvic pain, especially during menstruation.
Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition. It is a chronic, painful, and often progressive disease in women. However, the causes of endometriosis are unknown, it is widely variable in symptoms and severity, and it is difficult to diagnose.
Endometriosis occurs when cells from the mucus membrane lining the uterus (endometrium) form implants that attach, grow, and function outside the uterus, generally in the pelvic region.
Endometrial cells contain receptors that bind to estrogen and progesterone, which promote uterine growth and thickening. When these cells become implanted in organs and structures outside the uterus, these hormonal activities continue to occur, causing bleeding and scarring.
Endometrial implants vary widely in size, shape, and color. Over the years, they may diminish in size or disappear, or they may grow.
Implants can form in many areas, most commonly in the following locations in the pelvis:
Rarely, remote sites of endometriosis may include the spinal column, nose, lungs, pelvic lymph nodes, the forearm, and the thigh.
The process of endometriosis mimics menstruation at certain stages:
The lesions are not cancerous, but they can develop to the point that they cause obstruction or adhesions (web-like scar tissue) that attach to and bind together nearby pelvic organs, causing pain, inflammation, and sometimes infertility.
[For more information, see In-Depth Report #100: Menstrual disorders for complete description of female reproductive system and menstrual cycle.]
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