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Approximately ten percent of women all around the world suffer from endometriosis. Unfortunately, not all these women know that they have endometriosis or don’t have the resources available for diagnosis and treatment. The symptoms of endometriosis are often ignored or brushed off as being a part of womanhood.

What is Endometriosis?

Every month females of childbearing age have a menstrual cycle. During menstruation, the tissue that builds up and lines the uterus every month in preparation for a possible fetus breaks down and sheds which causes bleeding from the vagina. This is a normal part of womanhood. When a woman has endometriosis, she has the same tissues build-up but they grow outside the uterus. The tissue can build up on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even the intestines. During menstruation, these tissues break down but unlike the tissue in the uterus, they do not have a way to escape from the body. This can be very painful and cause difficulty conceiving a child.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

Endometriosis can have symptoms such as pain, nausea, abnormal menstruation, and cramping. The issue is that these symptoms are very general and vague. Many other health conditions have similar symptoms. Some women with endometriosis may have no symptoms at all. These factors make diagnosing endometriosis very difficult for healthcare providers.

How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

Since the symptoms of endometriosis are vague, the only definitive way for endometriosis to be diagnosed is by laparoscopy. A laparoscopy is a surgical procedure where an incision is made near the belly button and a small camera is used to look at the pelvic organs for signs of endometriosis.

What Happens If Endometriosis is Not Treated?

If endometriosis goes a long time without being treated it will become worse. Endometriosis is a progressive disease, which means it will get worse over time. The severity of the disease will vary and be different for every woman. Some women have very severe cases while others have milder forms. Unfortunately, if endometriosis goes untreated it can damage the pelvic organs and result in infertility.

How is Endometriosis Treated?

The type of treatment you receive for endometriosis will depend on the severity of symptoms, preferences, and health history. There is no cure for endometriosis but it can be treated with surgery, hormone medications, or supportive care. Speak with your healthcare provider to see what treatment options would be best for you.

How Can I Learn More About Endometriosis?

Check out these resources to learn more about endometriosis,

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office on Women’s Health

World Health Organization – Endometriosis

Endometriosis Foundation of America