Uterine fibroids and endometriosis are two very common conditions that affect a lot of women. They have similar symptoms but are very different conditions.
Both involve abnormally growing tissue, however uterine fibroids are benign growths that appear on or within uterine walls, and endometriosis is caused by the tissue that is normally found in the uterus; when endometrial tissue extends beyond the uterus and attaches to the nearest organs, such as the large intestine or other organs, ovaries or fallopian tubes, endometriosis occurs.
⇒Related: What are uterine fibroids?
There are several theories about why endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus (although much like in case of uterine fibroids, the exact causes are unclear). Genetics can be one reason; also, endometrial cells could move to the pelvic cavity in other ways, such as during a C-section delivery. Sometimes, hormonal disruptions, weakened immune system, abortions, inflammatory diseases of the female genital organs can be the cause (among other possible reasons).
Tissue affected by endometriosis outside the uterus cannot be entirely removed in most cases, which leads to internal bleeding, inflammation of the surrounding areas, and scar tissue growth.
Unlike uterine fibroids, endometriosis can often happen in younger women, even teenage girls after they start having periods.
If you have the following symptoms, you need to consult a doctor to confirm or deny the diagnosis:
However, sometimes endometriosis has several distinctive symptoms. It can be characterized by bleeding from the rectum or bladder instead of bleeding through the vagina.
Endometriosis can also lead to infertility or difficulties getting pregnant. Much like uterine fibroids, endometriosis can be asymptomatic for a long time and start bothering you in late stages (there are 4 stages).
Remember that if you have uterine fibroids or endometriosis, early diagnosis and treatment can help maintaining your quality of life and succeeding in treating the condition.