WOMEN’S HEALTH: WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS

Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrium (the lining of the uterus) is found in locations outside the uterus. It can occur in menstruating women at anytime from puberty to menopause. This misplaced endometrium is most commonly found on the ovaries, the ligaments supporting the uterus and the Pouch of Douglas. It can cause a wide range of symptoms including period pain, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, bowel problems and infertility.

The first mention of the characteristic symptoms of endometriosis has been found in ancient Egyptian scrolls which date back to the year 1600 B.C. The first reference to endometriosis in medical literature appeared in 1860. But it was not until 1921 that an American doctor, John Sampson, first gave an accurate description of the disease and named it endometriosis.

Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition affecting women in their menstruating years and it is responsible for up to one-quarter of all the abdominal surgery performed by gynaecologists. It is also one of the leading causes of infertility in women over the age of 2 5 and it is thought to affect approximately 30% to 40% of infertile women. It is impossible to determine how common endometriosis is because some women do not have any symptoms and many women with the condition are undiagnosed. Gynaecologists believe that endometriosis probably affects approximately 10% to 15% of women at some stage during their menstruating years.

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