Gynecology

What Exactly is Endometriosis?

While some women have symptom-free endometriosis, where the tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, most women struggle with pain – painful periods, pain in the low back, pain during or after sex and/or pain during bowel movements or urination. The pain is caused by the tissue growing outside of the uterus but still acting as it would normally, breaking down and bleeding during your monthly cycle yet lacking a way to leave the body; the endometrial tissue can eventually create cysts or scar tissue. Most common among women in their 30s and 40s, endometriosis can also make it more difficult for women to get pregnant. If you have notable pelvic pain, talk to your doctor, who can determine if you have endometriosis through a pelvic exam, ultrasound or MRI.

While the exact cause of endometriosis isn’t known, women who haven’t had children, who have a family history or who have longer periods (more than a week) or shorter cycles (27 days or less) are more likely to experience it. “Endometriosis can be mistaken for other sources of pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or just bad cramps, which is why it makes sense to talk to your doctor to determine what’s going on and how you can best treat it,” said Dr. Kellie Stecher. “We are always here to listen and to help answer your questions.” Treatment can include over-the-counter pain medication, hormone therapy and surgery to remove the endometriosis for women trying to get pregnant. Warm baths, heating pads and exercise may also help. In many cases, the discomfort of endometriosis dissipates after menopause.

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