Women Need to be Aware of the Signs of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a common
condition that affects approximately 6 million women in the United States. Yet
it often goes undiagnosed for years because its symptoms are often mistaken for
normal menstrual cycle symptoms.
occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb grows outside of
the uterus and on other areas of the body where it doesn't belong,” said Erika Johnston-MacAnanny, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and
gynecology-reproductive medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Approximately 10 percent of
reproductive-age women have endometriosis, which is most frequently diagnosed
between ages 30 and 50, according to the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Infertility is a common problem associated with
endometriosis. While many women with endometriosis are able to conceive, they
may find it more difficult to get pregnant. About 40 percent of women dealing
with infertility issues have endometriosis, the ACOG says.
“When inflammation from endometriosis occurs in the fallopian
tubes and uterus, it can damage the sperm or egg or hinder their movement,”
Johnston-MacAnanny said. “In extreme cases of endometriosis, adhesions or scar
tissue can block the fallopian tubes.”
According to Johnston-MacAnanny
and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, symptoms
of endometriosis can include:
and painful (sometimes even debilitating) menstrual cramps, which may get
worse over time.
spotting or bleeding between periods.
during or after intercourse and in the intestine or lower abdomen.
bowel movements or urination during menstrual periods.
Johnston-MacAnanny encourages any woman
experiencing symptoms of endometriosis to inform her doctor. Although surgery,
such as laparoscopy, is the gold standard for diagnosis, often medical
treatments can be used first to avoid invasive procedures she says.
“It’s important to listen to
your body and be aware that some cramps and discomfort are normal during a menstrual
cycle, but they shouldn’t be unbearable or conflict with your daily schedule,”
said Johnston-MacAnanny. “Although there is no cure for endometriosis,
treatments are available for the symptoms and problems associated with