Understanding Endometriosis

Posted Monday, May 24, 2021


Did you know? 20-40% of women who are infertile have endometriosis.

More than 11% of American women ages 15-44 are affected by endometriosis.

01 | Introduction

Endometriosis is a disease where the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. This can happen anywhere in the body, but is usually found in the lower abdomen or pelvis, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus and the tissues that hold the uterus in place.

Unfortunately, we do not yet know the exact causes of endometriosis. Researchers are studying some possible causes — problems with menstrual flow, genetic factors, immune system problems, hormones and abdominal surgeries.

02 | Symptoms

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain, such as chronic lower back and pelvis pain, painful menstrual cramps and intestinal pain. Other symptoms include:

  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Digestive problems
  • Heavy menstrual periods

03 | High or Low Risk

There are several different factors that can increase or decrease the risk of developing endometriosis.

You are at high risk if you:

  • Have a mother, sister, or daughter with endometriosis
  • Started your period before age 11
  • Have cycles less than 27 days
  • Have heavy menstrual periods lasting more than 7 days
  • Are infertile

You are at low risk if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Started your period late in adolescence
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Eat more fruit, especially citrus

04 | Treatment

Treatment for endometriosis include hormone therapy, pain medications and surgical treatments. Hormonal birth control is usually prescribed if you are not trying to get pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant, you may be prescribed a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist for some time. Surgery is also an option in severe cases to remove the endometriosis patches.

Learn More

For more information and supportive resources, please visit https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis

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