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What is Endometriosis?

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Here at BestMed, we’re committed to raising awareness and understanding about this painful condition that affects 176 million reproductive-age women and connecting them to resources and health specialists who can provide treatment and hope. For too long, women’s reproductive health issues have not been discussed openly. We want to reassure our patients and all women in our communities that we are here as advocates and a resource for you and your family. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant—or experiencing fertility challenges—familiarize yourself with the causes and symptoms of endometriosis and become part of the growing national dialogue around women’s reproductive health.

What is Endometriosis?

With endometriosis, tissue similar to the endometrium—the tissue that lines the uterus—grows in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the pelvic lining. In rare cases, it may spread beyond the pelvic organs. Endometriosis is typically painful, as the endometrial-like tissue thickens, breaks down, and bleeds every menstrual cycle, becoming trapped inside the body. When endometriosis occurs in the ovaries, it can cause cysts, which can irritate the surrounding tissue, developing scars and abnormal fibrous tissue bands that cause organs and pelvic tissue to stick together. In addition to the physical pain of endometriosis, it often causes fertility complications.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis may include:

  • Pelvic pain that worsens during ovulation and menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Painful intercourse

Treatment Options for Endometriosis

Women who experience endometriosis do not need to suffer in silence. After a diagnosis, your doctor may recommend one or several of the following treatment options:

  • Pain medication – May include an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease menstrual cramps
  • Hormone therapy – In combination with pain relievers for women not trying to become pregnant
  • Progestin Therapy – May include an intrauterine device with levonorgestrel, a contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection, or a progestin pill
  • Hormonal contraceptives – Including birth control pills, vaginal rings, or patches
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GN-RH) agonists and antagonists – Drugs that blog the body’s production of ovarian-stimulating hormones
  • Aromatase inhibitors – Medicines that reduce estrogen levels
  • Fertility treatment – To help women who are having difficulties getting pregnant
  • Conservative surgery – To remove the endometrial tissues without removing the reproductive organs
  • Hysterectomy and oophorectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries—the most invasive treatment option

When to Talk to Your Doctor

If you are suffering from painful periods and intercourse and are struggling to conceive, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment for women of child-bearing years can help you overcome the physical impact of endometriosis so that you can conceive and carry a healthy baby.

Join in the Conversation During Endometriosis Awareness Month

No matter your gender or whether you are a parent or trying to become pregnant, everyone can be an ally in the conversation around endometriosis and help raise awareness this month. For more information or support, visit the Endometriosis Research Center.