What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition affecting an estimated 1 in 10 women, or 176 million women worldwide.

Endometriosis occurs when pieces of endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) are displaced to other areas of the body. These pieces of endometrium may stick to organs in the pelvic cavity, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, peritoneal lining, bowel or the bladder, where they grow to form lesions (these may also be described as cysts or plaques).

Despite being outside of the uterus, these lesions are still responsive to female reproductive hormones that trigger menstruation, and as result, may bleed during menstruation, causing inflammation, internal bleeding and scar tissue.

Endometriosis can cause debilitating symptoms that may include severe pelvic pain, back pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, bladder problems, nausea, bowel problems and infertility. There are several methods for diagnosing, treating and managing endometriosis, which may include ultrasound and MRI, surgery, hormonal treatments and pain or anti-inflammatory medication. Learn more about endometriosis by downloading our fact sheet.

How can medical research help end endometriosis?

Endometriosis is as common in women as asthma or diabetes. It affects around one in 10 women, and the symptoms can have a debilitating effect on women’s lives.

Yet, the cause of endometriosis remains unknown. Hudson Institute is a leading centre for research into women’s reproductive health and home to some of the world’s leading scientists in endometrial research. Our scientists were the world’s first to discover stem cells in the endometrium, have made important discoveries in understanding how menstruation works, and discovered menstruation in the spiny mouse. Based on these discoveries, we are working towards a better understanding of endometriosis, including: developing a non-invasive early diagnostic test, investigating the potential of non-surgical and non-hormonal treatment options, and improved detection of infertility in women with endometriosis. Medical research is vital to improving treatment, management and diagnosis, and ultimately reducing suffering for women with endometriosis.