About Endo

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a complex chronic disease that is challenging to manage and live with. But you are not alone in dealing with this disease.

Endometriosis affects at least 1 in 10 girls, women, and unmeasured numbers of two-spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse individuals. This means that almost 2 million Canadians have endometriosis.

Endometriosis can affect many organ systems in the body. The symptoms can make everyday activities challenging, lead to missed school or work, and impact personal relationships, social life and mental health. That’s why learning about endo and getting support are so important.

Understanding endometriosis

The endometrium is the lining of the uterus that sheds each month during the menstrual cycle. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium grows abnormally elsewhere in the body.

Endo is a life-altering condition. It’s much worse and more serious than having a bad period.

Endometriosis is often found in the pelvis, which is the area inside the body between the hips, and from the belly button down to the vagina. The pelvis contains gynecologic organs – the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina – along with the muscles and ligaments that support them. These organs are sometimes referred to as “reproductive organs”. These are the body parts a person is born with that could allow them to become pregnant. The pelvis also contains non-gynecologic organs, like the bowel and bladder.

In the pelvis, endometriosis is most commonly found on gynecologic organs and their supporting structures, followed by the sections of the bowel called the sigmoid colon and rectum. It is less common, but possible, to have endometriosis growing on the bladder, or on the tubes leading to the bladder (the ureters).

Endometriosis can also be found in areas of the body outside the pelvis. This is called extrapelvic endometriosis. Extrapelvic endometriosis is less common than pelvic endometriosis.

There are 3 different types of endometriosis:

  1. Superficial endometriosis is when endo growths form on the surface of tissues.
  2. Deep endometriosis (previously called deep infiltrating endometriosis) grows into the tissue underneath it. It can cause damage to the organs it grows on.
  3. Endometriomas are when endo grows on the ovaries. They are sometimes also called “chocolate cysts” because they are filled with dark brown fluid.

A person with endometriosis may have only one type of endo, or any combination of the 3 types.

Some people with endometriosis are more likely to have endometriosis pain during their period. We don’t fully understand why this happens, but it is likely because of the hormones in the body that trigger inflammation.

There is still a lot that we don’t understand about the causes of endometriosis. It isn’t something you catch, like a cold, but it can run in the family. If you have a close relative with endo, you have a higher chance of having it too.