The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 23, 2013

Speaking of Health: Battle endometriosis with knowledge of common condition


— 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.

Identifying endometriosis

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:

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.

Risk factors

Some of the risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing endometriosis include:

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.

Treatment

Although there is no sure-fire way to prevent endometriosis, there are effective treatments to help women manage their symptoms.

Here are some common ways that endometriosis is treated:

Endometriosis has caused challenges in the lives of many women. Some have experienced barriers in relationships due to physical and emotional pain while others have missed work and social events.

But it’s important to know that you can be in a better position to relieve your pain and enhance your well-being by becoming more knowledgeable of the warning signs and effective treatments associated with endometriosis.

Javier Cardenas, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System obstetrician and gynecologist. Health & Fitness coverage is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, preserving the health and well-being of southern Minnesota communities.