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Where Can Endometrial Tissue Ectopically Occur?

Endometriosis, a troubling condition for many women, is characterized by the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.


So, where exactly does this ectopic endometrial tissue run off to?

1. Ovaries:

The ovaries are crucial organs in the female reproductive system, responsible for egg production and hormone secretion. When endometrial tissue migrates to the ovaries, it undergoes cyclic bleeding along with the menstrual cycle.

This bleeding accumulates within the ovaries, forming one or more cysts containing old blood, known as chocolate cysts or endometriomas. These cysts may progressively enlarge, causing not only dysmenorrhea and menstrual irregularities but also potentially affecting ovarian function, such as ovulation disorders, thus impacting fertility.

2. Pelvic Peritoneum:

The peritoneum is a thin membrane covering the surfaces of pelvic organs. Ectopic endometrial tissue growth on the peritoneum can form scattered blue-purple spots or nodules. During menstruation, bleeding from these ectopic tissues can irritate the peritoneum, leading to symptoms such as lower abdominal pain and dyspareunia.

3. Uterosacral Ligaments:

The uterosacral ligaments are part of the uterine support ligaments. Endometrial implants in these ligaments can cause hypertrophy of the uterosacral ligaments, resulting in symptoms like sacral backache and pelvic heaviness.

Apart from these locations, endometrial tissue can also migrate to the fallopian tubes. This affects the normal peristalsis and egg-picking function of the tubes, increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy and possibly causing infertility.

In rare cases, endometrial tissue can even migrate to more distant locations, such as the lungs, nasal cavity, and abdominal wall incision.

When endometrial tissue migrates to the lungs, patients may experience symptoms like hemoptysis and chest pain during menstruation.

If it migrates to the nasal cavity, it could lead to epistaxis during menstruation. When it migrates to an abdominal wall incision, it may form tender nodules at the incision site, which enlarge and become painful during menstruation.

Why does endometrial tissue occur in ectopic locations?

Currently, it is believed that endometriosis may be associated with various factors such as retrograde menstruation, immune factors, genetic factors, and environmental factors.

1. Retrograde menstruation:

During menstruation, some menstrual blood may flow back through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity. If the conditions in the pelvic cavity are favorable, these shed endometrial cells may implant and grow.

2. Immune factors:

Abnormalities in the immune system may fail to effectively clear the ectopic endometrial cells, allowing them to survive and grow.

3. Genetic and environmental factors:

Women with a family history of endometriosis are at a relatively higher risk. Environmental pollution, changes in dietary structure, and other factors may also influence the occurrence of endometriosis.

Doctors typically combine symptoms, gynecological examinations, ultrasound examinations, serum CA125 measurements, and other methods to make a comprehensive assessment for the diagnosis of endometriosis.

Treatment options depend on the patient's age, symptoms, fertility needs, and the extent and severity of the lesions:

For patients with mild symptoms and fertility needs, drug therapy is generally used, such as the Chinese herbal medicine Fuyan Pill, oral contraceptives, progestogens, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists to suppress ovarian function and prevent the development of endometrial lesions, thereby relieving symptoms.

For patients with severe symptoms, ineffective drug therapy, or no fertility needs, surgical treatment may be chosen, including fertility-preserving surgery, ovarian function-preserving surgery, or radical surgery. Postoperatively, consolidation therapy with Fuyan Pill may be used.

In conclusion, endometriosis is a complex disease where ectopic endometrial tissue can appear in various parts of the body, causing a variety of symptoms and discomfort for patients. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can effectively control the condition and improve patients' quality of life.

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