Scattered tissue of the uterine lining - an estimated one in ten women in Germany suffers. Nevertheless, it sometimes takes years until the correct diagnosis is made. Endometriosis is derived from endometrium, the term for the endometrium. Normally, this mucous membrane clothes the inside of the uterus. But it can also settle in other places, for example, in the fallopian tubes or on the ovary, in the abdomen, but also deep in the muscles of the uterus. Other places in the body are possible, but rather rare. Endometriosis is one of the most common diseases in women of mature age. For example, every third woman who unintentionally remains childless is behind her as the cause.
Uterine lining: construction and dismantling in constant change
During childhood, the endometrium is a dormant tissue. Only with the onset of puberty and increasing levels of estrogen in the blood does it begin to grow to prepare the uterus for the implantation of a child until it comes to the first menstrual bleeding, in which the superfluous mucous membrane is repelled. From then on, the endometrium is subject to constant change.
The female cycle
Under the influence of estrogens, the uterine lining is built up during each menstrual cycle. It grows through an interaction of estrogens and progestins on and on until it finally matures at the time of ovulation. She is now ready to pick up an egg. Now when the egg is fertilized, it can nest in the uterine lining and the development of a new life begins.
If there is no fertilization, then the body does not need this layer of mucus. The hormones fall off, the layer disintegrates and is repelled. This causes a bleeding, after which the buildup of the mucous membrane begins again. Only with the onset of menopause and the drop in estrogen levels, this cycle finally stops.
Irritation and inflammation
The scattered Endometriumherde react like the normal endometrium on the hormones in the blood, so they change during each menstrual cycle. However, the blood then formed to reject the tissue can not leave the body as normal through the vagina.
Instead, it flows into the abdominal cavity, for example. From there it is slowly absorbed by the body, but the recurrent tissue breakdown outside the uterus causes irritation and inflammation.
In the long term, this leads to adhesions and changes in the affected areas. If the blood accumulates in an organ, this leads to so-called chocolate cysts on the ovaries. These are cavities filled with clotted old blood that appear brownish - hence the name.
How do the endometrial foci develop?
There are only theories about the development of endometriosis. For example, it is discussed that the disease is the result of uncontrolled growth, causing the mucosa to grow into the depths of the uterine musculature or spread to other organs. And it is believed that by refluxing the menstrual blood endometrial tissue can be carried into the abdomen and then settles there.
Endometriosis: hereditary component
Another hypothesis assumes that cells that have emerged from the same urinary tissue in the womb, can convert into endometrium and thus lead to endometriosis. The disease also accumulates in some families, so that a hereditary component must be adopted. However, none of the current theories can adequately explain all phenomena of endometriosis.