What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition affecting up to 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The uterus is lined with tissue — the endometrium — which is replenished every menstrual cycle to prepare for a fertilized egg. In people who have endometriosis, this tissue grows outside the uterus, and is commonly found on or around the reproductive organs including the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and cervix. 

Endometriosis growths may swell and bleed in the same way the lining inside of the uterus does every month, which can cause pain resulting from tissue growth and bleeding in an area where it cannot easily exit the body. There is currently no means of prevention and no cure, but symptoms can be managed through medication and surgery. 

Symptoms include:

  • Extremely painful menstrual cramps
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Infertility
  • Digestive problems including diarrhea or constipation

Treatment and Research

Early diagnosis and intervention are important for long-term health and well-being. Finding the right treatment depends on many factors including age and severity of symptoms. Doctors will also discuss whether a patient with endometriosis wants to have children, which can help determine the best treatment options. Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics endometriosis specialists use the most advanced treatment techniques to deliver personalized care.

Key investigators Kristin Patzkowsky, M.D., James Segars Jr. M.D., and Khara Simpson, M.D., are available for interviews about endometriosis.