Approximately 200 million women worldwide suffer with endometriosis. It is so common that it is said to affect from two to ten percent of all women of child bearing age.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder that occurs when tissue similar to the uterine lining is found outside the uterus, in the pelvic cavity—especially the ovaries.
It often starts with pelvic pain, painful or irregular periods or nausea. Women often describe the pain as a constant, aching pain that is deep and often spreads to both sides of the pelvic region, the lower back, abdomen, and buttocks.
There are five common signs of endometriosis.
- Painful periods. Most of us have cramps during our periods, but women with endometriosis often have debilitating pain.
- Chronic pelvic pain. Sometimes women have chronic and severe pelvic pain even when they don’t have their periods. This can be due to prolonged cases and scarring.
- Painful intercourse. This common symptom, also known as dyspareunia, is due to endometriosis beneath the uterus. During penetration, women might have intense, localized pain.
- Ovarian cysts. These cysts, known as endometriomas, are another hallmark of endometriosis. They can become large and painful, and often need to be removed.
- Infertility. Infertility is defined as not conceiving within one year despite regular sexual intercourse without contraception. About 10 percent of women living with infertility have endometriosis. This is the leading cause of infertility because it can cause scar tissue as well as damage and inflammation to the fallopian tubes, which are needed to conceive naturally. Research also shows that endometriosis can affect egg quality and reduce the number of eggs in the body.
Often misdiagnosed, there is no known cause or cure for endometriosis. However, there are treatment options including laparoscopic surgery, hormonal birth control, pain medication, pelvic floor therapy, bioidentical hormones, and exercise along with diet changes.
If you think you might have endometriosis, know that you aren’t alone. The condition affects hundreds of thousands of women every year. Even Lena Dunham, star of the television show Girls, brought widespread attention to this condition by talking about her own diagnosis and treatment.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, see one of our experienced gynecologists. Don’t suffer in silence. We offer compassionate care for women, by women.