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  • Endometriosis is a non-cancerous disorder in which functioning endometrial tissue is present outside the uterine cavity.  This tissue responds to hormonal changes and may either cause no symptoms or severe pain and infertility.
  • The cause of endometriosis is unknown.  The most widely held theory is that endometrial cells may have a retrograde (i.e. backwards) flow from the uterus into the pelvic cavity and then implant and grow on various sites from the ovaries to the fallopian tubes and other surfaces of the pelvic or abdominal cavity. 
The Incidence and Prevalence of Endometriosis
  • The incidence of endometriosis is not known precisely, because the only reliable way to diagnose it is by surgery or at autopsy.  No large cadaver studies examining autopsy specimens have been done.
  • Widely used numbers for the incidence of endometriosis in the US include:  3-10% of all women reproductive age and 25-50% of all women with an infertility problem.  Another widely used statistic is that endometriosis is commonly found in 10-15% of women between the ages of 25 and 44 who are actively menstruating.
  • The public testimony to the US Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources' Subcommittee on Aging report in 1993 estimated that about 5 million women in the USA are affected by endometriosis. 
  • Other data from the literature:
  • There is a 2% rate of endometriosis for those undergoing elective tubal sterilization.
  • There is a 8-12% rate for those undergoing hysterectomy.
  • There is a 30% rate for those undergoing operative laparoscopy.
  • There is a 55% rate for teenagers undergoing diagnostic laparoscopy for pelvic pain.
  • The incidence of endometriosis is higher (by 6%) in first degree relatives of women with endometriosis than in the general population.
  • The incidence of endometriosis is increased in women who delay childbearing, who are of Asian decent, or who have mullerian duct abnormalities.

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Created: 11/2/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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