Umbilical endometriosis is when cells that usually line the womb develop in and around a person’s navel. This can cause cyclic pain, bleeding, and discharge from the navel area. It can also lead to painful menstruation.

Although these symptoms can be challenging, surgery can cure umbilical endometriosis.

This article provides a detailed look at umbilical endometriosis, what causes it, how to treat it, and more.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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The endometrium is the lining of the womb. Endometriosis is a chronic condition where tissue similar to the endometrium grows outside the uterus.

Research shows that endometriosis affects between 10% and 15% of all females of reproductive age.

Endometriosis can be pelvic, meaning that it affects body parts such as the ovaries and bladder.

It can also be extra-pelvic, affecting the urinary tract, the gastrointestinal tract, or even the brain. Pelvic endometriosis is the most common form of this condition.

Umbilical endometriosis is when endometrium-like tissue develops in and around an individual’s navel.

Studies suggest that umbilical endometriosis is a very rare condition, accounting for no more than 1% of extra-pelvic endometrioses.

Although endometriosis can be asymptomatic, the condition may also manifest in several different ways.

With umbilical endometriosis, a 2020 paper lists the following as common symptoms:

Importantly, around 25% of people with umbilical endometriosis also have some form of pelvic endometriosis.

Therefore, someone with umbilical endometriosis may also experience other symptoms. According to a 2023 review, alongside painful menstruation, pelvic endometriosis can cause the following symptoms:

Any individual with the above symptoms should seek medical advice.

Scientists remain uncertain about the exact causes of endometriosis, including its umbilical manifestation.

One theory explains endometriosis in terms of retrograde menstruation. This is when blood flows into other body parts rather than out of the vagina.

The theory states that this blood may sometimes contain viable endometrial cells. These could implant themselves into various tissues, in which they might then grow.

A different theory puts more emphasis on the peritoneum, which is a membrane that covers the abdominal organs.

Epithelial cells make up a part of this membrane. Under certain circumstances, these cells can transform into endometrial tissue.

However, the scientific community is fairly confident that no one theory can account for all cases of endometriosis. This condition may well have many possible causes, and research is ongoing.

Surgery is the treatment of choice for umbilical endometriosis.

Doctors may recommend a laparoscopy to identify endometriosis lesions. They can then remove any endometrial-like tissue from a person’s navel area. If successful, this treatment can cure umbilical endometriosis.

Doctors sometimes recommend hormone therapy for umbilical endometriosis.

This treatment can reduce the severity of an individual’s symptoms, although it cannot cure umbilical endometriosis.

Doctors may also recommend hormone therapy in the buildup to surgery. This is because hormone therapy can sometimes reduce the amount of endometrial-like tissue.

Endometriosis has many possible complications.

These may include:

  • fertility challenges
  • chronic pain
  • anatomical abnormalities as a result of adhesions
  • bladder or bowel dysfunction

There is some evidence that endometriosis can develop into cancer. For instance, ovarian manifestations of endometriosis may lead to ovarian cancer.

However, research suggests that the risk of umbilical endometriosis developing into cancer is very low.

Living with endometriosis involves managing difficult symptoms.

An additional difficulty is that doctors routinely underdiagnose endometriosis or diminish the severity of its symptoms. This can delay the start of adequate treatment.

As many people with endometriosis have negative healthcare experiences, it can be more challenging for such individuals to adhere to treatment if they do eventually receive it.

Moreover, these experiences can create disillusionment about established medicine, drawing people toward alternative forms of treatment.

There is no reliable evidence that alternative therapies are effective as treatments for endometriosis. The same is true of home remedies. This can be a frustrating situation for people with endometriosis.

Learn more about the path to endometriosis diagnosis.

Given its potential for long-term and serious complications, endometriosis can be challenging.

Therefore, individuals with endometriosis may find it helpful to seek support from dedicated organizations.

In the U.S., one such organization is the Endometriosis Association.

In the U.K., Endometriosis-UK can offer similar kinds of support.

This section answers some common questions about umbilical endometriosis.

How rare is umbilical endometriosis?

Umbilical endometrioses account for no more than 1% of extra-pelvic endometrioses.

Extra-pelvic endometriosis is the least common kind of endometriosis.

Can umbilical endometriosis cause infertility?

There is evidence that umbilical endometriosis may sometimes contribute to infertility. However, surgical treatment may help people conceive even with endometriosis.

A person may also benefit from IVF therapy. Anyone who is concerned about fertility should consult a medical professional.

Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside of the uterus.

Pelvic endometriosis is the most common type, but endometriosis can also affect extra-pelvic areas. These include the navel area.

When endometriosis affects this part of the body, it is umbilical endometriosis. Symptoms of umbilical endometriosis include cyclical swelling, pain, bleeding, and discharge.

Surgery is the most effective treatment option, although doctors sometimes recommend hormone therapy.

Find more endometriosis resources in our dedicated hub.