What causes endometriosis?

Updated: May 10, 2021
  • Author: G Willy Davila, MD; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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The exact cause and pathogenesis of endometriosis is unclear. Several theories exist that attempt to explain this disease, although none have been entirely proven. [1] Leading theories include metaplastic conversion of coelomic epithelium and hematogenous or lymphatic dispersion of endometrial cells. It is likely a combination of various factors that cause and determine the severity of this disease.

Previous theories suggest that endometriosis results from the transport of viable endometrial cells through retrograde menstruation. Cells flow backward through the fallopian tubes and deposit on the pelvic organs, where they seed and grow. A population of cells resides in the endometrium, which retain stem cell properties. It may be these properties that allow these cells to survive in ectopic locations.

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