March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and we think it’s important
to bring attention to a disease that, if left undiagnosed and untreated,
can slowly and progressively wreak havoc on a woman’s reproductive
system, overall health and quality of life.
Endometriosis affects more than 11 percent of American women between the
ages of 15 and 44. It is especially common among women in their 30s and
40s and may make it harder to get pregnant. Unfortunately, endometriosis
often goes undetected for years because the pelvic pain associated with
the condition is mistaken for severe menstrual cramps or there may be
no symptoms other than an inability to conceive.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the
uterus grows outside the uterus. Most often, endometriosis is found on the:
- Fallopian tubes
- Tissues that hold the uterus in place
- Outer surface of the uterus
Other sites for growths can include the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder
You might be more likely to get endometriosis if you have:
- Never had children
- Menstrual periods that last more than seven days
- Short menstrual cycles (27 days or fewer)
- A family member (mother, aunt, sister) with endometriosis
- A health problem that blocks the normal flow of menstrual blood from your
body during your period
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Many women experience no symptoms. If they do, symptoms of endometriosis
Pain. This is the most common symptom. Women with endometriosis may have
many different kinds of pain. These include:
- Very painful menstrual cramps. The pain may get worse over time.
- Chronic (long-term) pain in the lower back and pelvis.
- Pain during or after sex. This is usually described as a "deep"
pain and is different from pain felt at the entrance to the vagina when
- Intestinal pain.
- Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods.
In rare cases, you may also find blood in your stool or urine.
- Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods. This can be caused by something
other than endometriosis. If it happens often, you should see your doctor.
- Infertility, or not being able to get pregnant.
- Digestive problems. These include diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea,
especially during menstrual periods.
How is Endometriosis Treated?
There is no cure for endometriosis, but several different treatment options
can help manage the symptoms or improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Treatment for pain usually involves medication (e.g., hormone therapy and
pain medications) or surgery. The approach you and your doctor choose
will depend on how severe your signs and symptoms are and whether you
hope to become pregnant. If you're having difficulty getting pregnant,
your doctor may recommend fertility treatment.
Talk to your doctor about your treatment options. To speak with a Boulder
Women’s Care provider, call