About AOA

The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed.
- Unknown

 

Endometriosis: One of the Most Common Gynecological Diseases

With more than 5.5 million women in the United States and Canada diagnosed, endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological diseases. It can affect any menstruating woman, from the time of her first period to menopause, regardless of whether or not she has children, her race or ethnicity, or her socio-economic status. Endometriosis can sometimes persist after menopause; or hormone replacement therapies may cause the endometriosis symptoms to continue.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue, like that which lines the inside of uterus, begins growing outside the uterus, usually on the surfaces of organs in the pelvic and abdominal areas, in places where it is not supposed to grow. Your doctor may call these areas of endometriosis by different names, such as implants, lesions, or nodules.

One of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is pain, mostly in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvic areas, however, the amount of pain a woman feels is not linked to how much endometriosis she has.  Some women have pain before and during their periods, or during or after sex. The pain can be so intense that it impacts their quality of life and their relationships. Some women, however, have no pain even though their endometriosis is extensive, meaning that the affected areas are large, or that there is scarring. Others have severe pain even though they have only a few small areas of endometriosis. Your AOA doctor can help sort through your symptoms and determine the best options for finding relief. 

General symptoms of endometriosis can include (but are not limited to):
  • Extremely painful (or disabling) menstrual cramps; pain may get worse over time
  • Chronic pelvic pain (includes lower back pain and pelvic pain)
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Intestinal pain
  • Painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods
  • Infertility

In addition, women who are diagnosed with endometriosis may have gastrointestinal symptoms that resemble a bowel disorder, as well as fatigue.

Does having endometriosis mean I’ll be infertile or unable to have children?
About 30 percent to 40 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile, making it one of the top three causes of female infertility. The two most frequent symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility. Some women have no symptoms and may not learn that they have the disease until they have trouble getting pregnant.

The relationship between endometriosis and infertility is an active area of research. Some studies suggest that the condition may change the uterus so it does not accept an embryo. Other work explores whether endometriosis changes the egg, or whether endometriosis gets in the way of moving a fertilized egg to the uterus.