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Endometriosis is estimated to affect 7% of women of childbearing age in the United States. It most commonly strikes between the ages of 25 and 40. Endometriosis can also appear in the teen years, but never before the start of menstruation. It is seldom seen in postmenopausal women.

Endometriosis was once called the "career woman's disease" because it was thought to be a product of delayed childbearing. The statistics defy such a narrow generalization; however, pregnancy may slow the progress of the condition. A more important predictor of a woman's risk is if her female relatives have endometriosis. Another influencing factor is the length of a woman's menstrual cycle. Women whose periods last longer than a week with an interval of less than 27 days between them seem to be more prone to the condition.

Endometrial implants are most often found on the pelvic organs—the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and in the cavity behind the uterus. Occasionally, this tissue grows in such distant parts of the body as the lungs, arms, and kidneys. Newly formed implants appear as small bumps on the surfaces of the organs and supporting ligaments and are sometimes said to look like "powder burns." Ovarian cysts may form around endometrial tissue (endometriomas) and may range from pea to grapefruit size. Endometriosis is a progressive condition that usually advances slowly, over the course of many years. Doctors rank cases from minimal to severe based on factors such as the number and size of the endometrial implants, their appearance and location, and the extent of the scar tissue and adhesions in the vicinity of the growths.

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