A common condition among women is a painful disorder known as endometriosis, which occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside of the uterus. In fact, endometriosis affects more than 5 million women in the United States, according to womenshealth.gov.
Although endometrial growths are non-cancerous, this disorder can have devastating effects on all aspects of a woman’s life. Fortunately, having knowledge about endometriosis can equip you with the tools you need to live a healthier, happier life.
Endometriosis commonly presents itself as pelvic pain that coincides with your menstrual period. Most women experience a certain degree of cramping and pain during their menstrual periods, but the pain endometriosis causes is much more severe. This pain also typically gets worse over time.
Other symptoms associated with endometriosis include:
- Painful intercourse
- Painful bowel movements or urination
- Heavy menstrual periods
Pain differs from person to person and is not necessarily an indication of the severity of the disorder. Be sure to see your health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms or have concerns about endometriosis.
Some of the risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing endometriosis include:
- Never having children
- Family history of endometriosis (e.g. your mother or sister had it)
- Short menstrual cycles (27 days or less)
- Long-lasting menstrual periods (more than seven days)
- A health problem that inhibits the natural flow of menstrual blood
Age can also be a factor as endometriosis typically occurs during a woman’s 30s or 40s. However, it can affect any teen or woman who has a menstrual period. Endometriosis symptoms disappear during pregnancy and end permanently with menopause.
Although there is no sure-fire way to prevent endometriosis, there are effective treatments to help women manage their symptoms.