Endometriosis

A common gynecological condition, which is more common among women of childbearing age, endometriosis affects anywhere from 2% to 10% of women during their child-bearing years. Some women experience ongoing pain which can be debilitating, while others are asymptomatic. It is also a factor in infertility.

The name endometriosis comes from the term endometrium, which is the tissue that lines the uterus. During a woman’s regular menstrual cycle, this tissue builds up then sheds if she doesn’t become pregnant. Women who have endometriosis develop tissue that looks and acts like endometrial tissue outside the uterus, usually on other reproductive organs either in the abdominal cavity or other reproductive organs inside the pelvis. Every month the displaced tissue responds to the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle by building up and breaking down just like the endometrium does, which results in internal bleeding.

How is endometriosis detected?

Pelvic pain is the primary symptom of endometriosis. That pain is often associated with your period. While many women experience cramping or pain during their period, women with endometriosis typically describe their menstrual pain as being far worse than it would be with a normal period. Often, they say the pain has worsened over time.

 

Here are some of the more common symptoms and signs associated with endometriosis:

  • Painful periods. Pelvic pain, abdominal pain, lower back pain, and cramping may begin before your period and continue several days into your period.

  • Pain after or during sexual intercourse.

  • Pain with urination or bowel movements, which are most likely during your periods.

  • Infertility – sometimes the condition is diagnosed in women seeking fertility treatment.

  • Excessive bleeding – heavy periods or bleeding between periods.

  • Other symptoms – fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, or bloating, especially during menstrual periods.

The severity of your pain isn’t necessarily an indicator of the extent of your condition. Some women who have mild endometriosis have intense pain, while those with advanced endometriosis might have little or no pain.

If you have signs or symptoms that indicate endometriosis, you should see your provider. Diagnosing the problem early could help you avoid unnecessary complications and pain.

Who is at risk for endometriosis?

These things could increase the risk of developing endometriosis:

  • Never having given birth

  • History of pelvic infections

  • One or more relatives with endometriosis (mother, aunt, or sister)

  • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow from the body

  • Uterine abnormalities

If you are diagnosed with endometriosis, your provider will discuss with you in-depth how your health will be affected, what procedures and tests might be necessary, and your specific treatment options. We promise to communicate honestly and openly. We expect you to ask us questions and share your concerns with us, so they can be properly addressed.

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