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What is Endometriosis?

By Jyothi Parapurath, MD, FACOG | Obstetrics & Gynecology 

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, endometriosis affects at least 11% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44. It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s.

Endometriosis is an often painful disorder which occurs when the tissue lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It is typically found on the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, tissues that hold the uterus in place, and the outer surface of the uterus.

Symptoms

  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Painful periods
  • Infertility
  • Pain during intercourse and/or with urination
  • Digestive problems

Endometriosis usually develops a few years after the onset of menstruation. Symptoms end temporarily with pregnancy and permanently with menopause.

Risk Factors

  • Never giving birth
  • Periods onset at an early age
  • Low body mass index
  • Alcohol consumption
  • High levels of estrogen
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • One or more relatives (mother, aunt, sister) with endometriosis

Treatment

There are several ways to reduce the chances of developing endometriosis by lowering the levels of estrogen in your body. These methods include:

  • Hormonal birth control
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping a low percentage of body fat
  • Avoiding large amounts of alcohol and caffeinated beverages

While there is no cure for endometriosis, medical and surgical treatments can help with symptoms that lead to pain and discomfort. An early diagnosis often results in better management of symptoms. If you suspect you may be suffering from endometriosis or if you’d like to learn more about your treatment options, consult your OB/GYN.

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