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Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus that is histologically similar to the endometrium.

The most commonly affected sites are pelvic organs such as the ovaries. On rare occasions, other parts of the body such as the lung can also be affected.

Endometriosis is oestrogen dependent and is predominantly found in women of reproductive age with a peak incidence between 30 and 45 years of age.

There have also been reports of endometriosis in postmenopausal women where it has been reactivated because of hormone replacement therapy.

Endometriosis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe dysmenorrhoea (pain during menstruation)
  • Deep dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
  • Chronic pelvic pain, ovulation pain, cyclical or pre-menstrual symptoms, infertility
  • Dyschezia (pain on defecation)

These symptoms can impact on general physical, mental and social well-being and it is therefore necessary to make an accurate diagnosis of this condition.

Diagnosis of endometriosis is made by visual inspection of the pelvis at laparoscopy.

Current treatment is surgical, medical or a combination of both approaches.