A Colorful Explanation of...Endometriosis

I often jokingly comment to my patients, “No matter what our skin color is on the outside, We’re all the same color on the ‘inside’…literally.” And it’s the truth. From an anatomical perspective, our inner organs are all the same color, despite skin color or race!

I use the ‘color’ of our pelvic organs (mostly pink) to explain the diagnosis of Endometriosis. First of all, our uterus, (sized and shaped like a pear) is pink, with two ‘noodle’ arms coming off the top sides (also pink.) The ovaries are 2 white ‘gumballs’ at the end of the tubes. The endometrial tissue, which lines the inner cavity of the uterus is not visible seeing the uterus surgically, from the outside. Let’s imagine this endometrial tissue to be blue. This tissue fluffs up, in preparation for implantation of a fertilized egg (pregnancy), in each monthly cycle. If no pregnancy occurs, the ‘blue’ lining tissue sheds…this is our menstrual flow. The only place in our body’s where this type of tissue (endometrial tissue) should exist is within the uterine cavity. The condition of Endometriosis is when tiny implants of this ‘blue’ tissue (in actuality is looks black, red or clear) are located within our pelvis, on areas such as the ovary, the outer uterus or pelvic sidewalls. The actual diagnosis of Endometriosis is made by visualizing this tissue ‘freckling’ the outer surfaces of the pelvic organs, as seen by laparoscopy (a surgical procedure performed by your Gynecologist.)

Some doctors (and patients) may assume the diagnosis of Endometriosis based on a history of very painful menstrual periods, or chronic pelvic pain. Though 1 in 3 patients with this history actually do end up having Endometriosis…The most accurate diagnosis is made by laparoscopic visualization (or biopsy) of these pelvic implants.


Tags: endometriosis, gynecologist, menstrual cramps