Endometriosis is a chronic condition where tissue similar to the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus. The condition can cause many symptoms, including painful and heavy periods and bowel problems. It may also interfere with fertility. Treatments usually include pain medication, hormone therapy, and surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes endometriosis?

    Endometriosis is caused by the formation of endometrial-like tissue in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvis, bladder, rectum, intestines, and/or vagina. Often, the out of place endometrial-like cycles between proliferating and breaking down during phases of the menstrual cycle, leading to periodic cramps, swelling, and bleeding. It’s now known what predisposes a woman to develop endometriosis, and it is believed to be associated with environmental and hereditary factors.

  • How is endometriosis diagnosed?

    Endometriosis is considered as a possible cause of episodic cramping, pain, swelling, and/or bleeding, especially when the symptoms are more severe or widespread than expected with menstruation. A pelvic examination or imaging tests like a pelvic ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT) scan can identify endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus, but often, a surgical biopsy is necessary to definitively identify the condition.

  • Is endometriosis genetic?

    Endometriosis does tend to run in families, but the exact hereditary pattern and the specific genes that could be responsible for the condition are not known. It is believed that a hereditary predisposition could make you more prone to endometriosis and that certain factors—being underweight and having a history of abdominal surgery—may increase the risk.

  • Can you get pregnant with endometriosis?

    Endometriosis can interfere with fertility, and the condition increases the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications. However, you can get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy when you have endometriosis. Lifestyle strategies like a healthy diet are important. And often, hormonal treatment, intrauterine insemination, or in vitro fertilization are used to facilitate pregnancy.

  • What does endometriosis look like?

    Endometriosis does not cause visible changes in a woman’s appearance, and it doesn’t cause a change in the appearance of menstrual bleeding. However, when viewed with diagnostic medical imaging tests, the endometrial-like tissue often appears as cystic lesions. And, when viewed directly during surgery, endometriosis has a characteristic appearance of bluish, black, reddish, or white lesions that look “burned.”

Key Terms

More In Uterine Conditions

Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gruber TM, Mechsner S. Pathogenesis of endometriosis: the origin of pain and subfertility. Cells. 2021;10(6). doi:10.3390/cells10061381

  2. Jerman LF, Hey-Cunningham AJ. The role of the lymphatic system in endometriosis: a comprehensive review of the literature. Biol Reprod. 2015 Mar;92(3):64. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.114.124313.

Additional Reading