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Endometriosis

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which the type of tissue that forms the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, is found outside the uterus. 

Endometriosis occurs in about one in 10 women of reproductive age. It is most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s.
Endometriosis implants respond to changes in estrogen, a female hormone. The implants may grow and bleed like the uterine lining does during the menstrual cycle. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, inflamed, and swollen. The breakdown and bleeding of this tissue each month also can cause scar tissue, called adhesions, to form. Sometimes adhesions can cause organs to stick together. The bleeding, inflammation and scarring can cause pain, especially before and during menstruation.

Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during menstrual periods. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.

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Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea).  
    Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
  • Pain with intercourse.  
    Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination.  
    You’re most likely to experience these symptoms during a menstrual period.
  • Excessive bleeding.  
    You may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
  • Urinary frequency. 
  • Infertility.  
    Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking treatment for infertility.
  • Other signs and symptoms.
    You may experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.

The severity of your pain isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of the extent of the condition. You could have mild endometriosis with severe pain, or you could have advanced endometriosis with little or no pain.

Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis.

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Diagnosis of Endometriosis

Our endometriosis specialists employ tried and true diagnostic techniques.

A thorough medical history is an important step in the diagnosis of endometriosis. No body is the same, and it is very common for women to experience the symptoms of endometriosis differently. It is very important to discuss your symptoms in detail with your provider. Here are some important questions that will help guide your initial consultation.  

  • When did your pain start?
  • What type of pain are you experiencing?
  • How would you describe your menstrual cycles?
  • What affects your pain levels?
  • Does your family medical history include endometriosis?
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