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Endometriosis — what it is and what to do about it | NCMA Women's OB/GYN Center
by Shazah Khawaja, MD, FACOG What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is a chronic gynecologic disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus in other parts of the abdomen. As a condition that occurs in 6–10 percent of women of reproductive age, endometriosis represents a significant health problem for millions (maybe as high as 6.5M) of U.S. women. If you’re still reading, you’re probably one of them, or you may know someone who has had to deal with these common endometriosis symptoms: Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pain during intercourse. Pain with bowel movements or urination. Excessive bleeding. infertility. Other symptoms, which may include fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods. Clearly, this is not a fun list. The symptoms or clinical manifestations of endometriosis are variable and unpredictable in both presentation and course. It can vary greatly from woman to woman. One thing to keep in mind is that the pain associated with endometriosis may not correlate with the stage of the disease. In other words, a woman experiencing significant endometrial pain may not necessarily be in a deep stage of the disease, and the opposite may also be true for someone else. There may be some association with the depth of infiltration of endometrial lesions. Painful defecation during menses and painful sexual intercourse are the most predictable symptoms of deeply infiltrating endometriosis. According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, other health problems women experience with endometriosis can include, allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, autoimmune diseases (these can include multiple sclerosis, lupus, and some types of hypothyroidism), chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. There is some good news: Endometriosis isn’t a fatal disease. In some cases, endometrial cells create cysts that can rupture and bleed. While this is serious and may sound a bit like cancer, endometriosis isn’t cancer. However, ovarian cancer does occur at higher than expected rates in women with endometriosis. Some studies suggest that endometriosis increases this risk, but it’s still relatively low, according to Mayo Clinic. Although rare, another type of cancer — endometriosis-associated adenocarcinoma — can develop later in life …