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What is Endometriosis? Symptoms, Treatments & What to Know

last year7 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

Endometriosis can be very painful and can cause infertility. Let’s answer all your questions and explore some endometriosis treatment options.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where uterine-lining tissue is found outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, for example, or in the fallopian tubes.

Endometriosis can be very hard to live with.

It is often very painful, and it can make it difficult to get pregnant.

The good news is that, if you have endometriosis, there are a few different treatment options that can help you.

Let’s answer some of your biggest questions right away, and then we’ll get into the details.

In this article: 📝

  • What are three common signs/symptoms of endometriosis?
  • How serious is endometriosis?
  • How do they test for endometriosis?
  • Can endometriosis go away?
  • What is endometriosis?
  • What causes endometriosis?
  • Who is at risk for endometriosis?
  • Is endometriosis hereditary?
  • What are some endometriosis symptoms?
  • What are some options for endometriosis treatment?

What are three common signs/symptoms of endometriosis?

Some of the most common signs of endometriosis include:

  • Excessive period pain or cramps
  • Abnormal or heavy periods
  • Infertility

How serious is endometriosis?

Endometriosis affects different people in different ways, but it can cause terrible pain and discomfort that can get in the way of your daily life.











Its effects aren’t only physical.

Endometriosis can also make you feel anxious or depressed.

How do they test for endometriosis?

If your doctor thinks you might have endometriosis, they’ll examine your vagina and pelvis.

They might also do an ultrasound, an MRI, or a laparoscopy.

A laparoscopy is when a doctor makes a small cut in your abdomen and passes a thin tube through to see if they can find signs of endometriosis.

If they find suspicious tissue, they’ll likely send it to a lab to confirm your endometriosis diagnosis.

A laparoscopy and biopsy is the only way to know for sure that you have endometriosis.

Can endometriosis go away?

Unfortunately, endometriosis is a lifelong condition, but there are some treatments that can help.

More on that later.

OK, those are the top questions people usually have about endometriosis.

Now let’s look in more detail at this condition.

What is endometriosis?

We’ll start with the endometrium first.

The endometrium is the medical word for the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus.

Your body grows a new endometrium to prepare for a fertilized egg every month.

If an egg isn’t fertilized, you don’t get pregnant, and your body releases the endometrium, together with blood and mucus from your vagina and cervix, during your period.

Endometriosis is when this tissue is found on the outside of the uterus or on the ovaries or fallopian tubes (where it’s not meant to be, in other words).

Sometimes it’s also found on the lining of the pelvic cavity and, in rare cases, on and around other abdominal organs, like the bladder, intestines, stomach, and rectum.

When you have endometriosis, the tissue that’s outside of your uterus behaves just like it would if it were inside your uterus.

This means that every menstrual cycle, it thickens, breaks down, and bleeds.

But because it has nowhere to go, this can be very painful and can cause inflammation, scar tissue, and cysts.

The fibrous tissue that builds up can also cause some organs to stick together.

Endometriosis affects between 10 and 15% of women of childbearing age.

It’s also possible to have endometriosis after menopause, though it’s less common.

What causes endometriosis?

Doctors still don’t know for sure.

It’s probably caused by a few different factors, such as:

  • Menstrual blood traveling back through the fallopian tubes and into your pelvic cavity, rather than leaving your body during your period.
  • Endometrial tissue being moved to other areas of the body by your blood vessels or lymphatic system.
  • Endometrial tissue attaching to the walls of the abdomen after surgery, like a C-section or hysterectomy.
  • If you have an immune system disorder, your body might not be able to identify and dispose of the tissue it finds growing outside of your uterus.

Because there isn’t a definite known cause, there isn’t an easy way to prevent endometriosis, either.

Who is at risk for endometriosis?

There are a few conditions that might put you at higher risk of endometriosis, such as if you:

  • Have congenital uterine anomalies, where your uterus is differently shaped or sized.
  • Started menstruating before you were 11 years old.
  • Have shorter menstrual periods that are less than 27 days long.
  • Have heavy periods that last more than seven days.

Is endometriosis hereditary?

Yes, potentially.

It’s possible that if your mother or sister has endometriosis, you might be at greater risk.

What are some endometriosis symptoms?

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms of endometriosis.

While some people are badly affected, others might not notice their symptoms much at all.

The similarities between endometriosis and other conditions, like pelvic inflammatory disease, mean that it’s often misdiagnosed, too.

It’s also possible to have two or more similar conditions — like PCOS and endometriosis — at the same time, which can be confusing.

Sadly, most women wait between four and eleven years after they first experience symptoms before they’re diagnosed.

Knowing what the symptoms are, and going to your doctor with a list of what you’ve been experiencing, can help your doctor to get your diagnosis right.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen or back (this might be worse during your period)
  • Severe period pain and cramps
  • Abnormal or heavy periods
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Finding it painful to pee or poop while you’re on your period
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods

What are some options for endometriosis treatment?

There isn’t a cure for endometriosis, but there are a few treatment options that you can try to make some of your symptoms better, such as:

  • Painkillers, like ibuprofen
  • Hormone medicines and birth control pills
  • Progestins to stop your periods and endometrial tissue from growing
  • Medicines called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs, which control certain hormones

Another option is endometriosis surgery.

This is usually done laparoscopically, which means that small incisions are made in your abdomen, one for a light and camera to be inserted into, and one for the tools that will be used to cut out the endometrial tissue.

Your doctor might choose to make a larger cut, which is called a laparotomy, but this isn’t very common.

A final surgical option is a hysterectomy.

This involves removing the uterus completely and is a major surgery.

If the ovaries are removed too, you won’t have endometriosis anymore because your body won’t be releasing estrogen, but you will go into menopause, which has its own complex symptoms.

How to treat your endometriosis is a very personal decision.

Chat with your doctor about the option that works best for you.

It’s important to remember that endometriosis doesn’t just affect you physically.

It can take its toll emotionally, too, especially if you’re TTC.

If you’re battling with everything that endometriosis brings with it, you’re not alone.

Our endometriosis support group is here to help.

Sign up, and join a community of people who know what you’re going through. ❤️

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