Non-cancerous conditions of the uterus

Endometriosis is a common non-cancerous condition of the uterus and reproductive system. It occurs when tissue from the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. The endometrial tissue usually grows on the outside of organs in the pelvis, including the uterus, vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder or colon. Sometimes the tissue grows in the abdominal cavity. In rare cases, it can grow in other parts of the body, such as the lungs. Endometriosis may increase the risk of infertility.

Risk factors

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes endometriosis. The following factors may increase your chance of developing endometriosis:

  • having a first-degree relative with endometriosis
  • having children later in life
  • having menstrual cycles that are less than 27 days and periods that last longer than 8 days
  • having certain types of abnormalities of the uterus


Endometriosis may not cause any symptoms. When it does cause symptoms, they will depend on where the endometrial tissue grows and may include:

  • pain in the pelvis, abdomen, lower back or legs
  • changes in menstruation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • inability to get pregnant

Once menopause is complete, the symptoms usually go away because the levels of hormones are lower.


If you have symptoms or your doctor thinks you might have endometriosis, you will be sent for tests. Tests used to diagnose or rule out endometriosis include:

  • pelvic exam
  • transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
  • computed tomography (CT) scan
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • biopsy during a laparoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or cystoscopy

Find out more about these tests and procedures.


Treatment options for endometriosis include:

  • medicines to lower estrogen and control pain
  • surgery to remove the areas of endometrial tissue that have grown outside the uterus
  • surgery to remove the uterus (called hysterectomy), fallopian tubes and ovaries

Expert review and references