March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month

Endometriosis is a disorder that affects a woman's uterus. Endometriosis is when the tissue that lines the uterus migrates to areas outside of the uterus, most commonly the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. It can also grow behind the uterus, on the bowels or on the bladder. The endometrial tissue is the same tissue that thickens throughout the menstrual cycle and sheds causing the menstrual period. When this process occurs outside of the uterus, the blood has nowhere to go causing pain, cysts, infertility and very heavy periods. The pain is typically in the abdomen, lower back or pelvic area. It is not uncommon for a woman with endometriosis to have no symptoms. Other symptoms may include painful bowel movements, spotting between periods, diarrhea, bloating, nausea or fatigue.

The cause of endometriosis is uncertain. However, it tends to run in families. Pain medication and hormone therapy, such as oral contraceptives, are the most common treatments. Sometimes, surgery is suggested for women with severe endometriosis. There are both minor and complex surgeries that will help. Conservative surgery involves removing the misplaced endometrial tissue while preserving the uterus. In severe cases and in cases where women are not hoping to reproduce in the future, a hysterectomy may be performed. Endometriosis is not the same as endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the uterine lining, although the two conditions do share many similar symptoms, often allowing for early detection. Whatever you chose, unfortunately, there is no guaranteed cure for endometriosis.

Currently there is no way to prevent getting endometriosis. However, you are more likely to get endometriosis if you have family member with endometriosis, recently had an infection in the uterus, or have never had a child. You can help generate awareness! Early diagnosis and treatment may help or delay the development of endometriosis.