As March is designated as National Endometriosis month we wanted to give you some facts about this condition which affects up to 5.5 million women and girls in the U.S. alone. I am one of those women affected. I was unaware of my endometriosis until I tried to have a baby and saw a fertility specialist who would later diagnose me with this gynecological disorder. Many women like me, are totally unaware that they have endometriosis until the condition causes pain or problems with conception. Endometriosis develops when the lining of the uterus (endometrial tissue) begins to grow outside the uterus. This growth can cover the outside of the uterus, the inside of the pelvic region, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and can even extend to the bladder and bowel. Each time you have a period; endometriosis can build up and cause inflammation, internal bleeding, adhesions, and scarring. Women who have endometriosis may suffer for years with this condition without a diagnosis or treatment. In this post we want to promote awareness of this condition by tackling some of the myths about endometriosis and give you the real facts.
Myth # 1: Endometriosis is rare.
The Facts: Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological conditions among women. It is difficult to assess exactly how many women have endometriosis because many women lack any noticeable symptoms. One of the primary symptoms, however, can be pain especially during menstruation. The National Institutes of Health estimate that 40-60% of women who have very painful periods also have endometriosis.
Myth # 2: Teens and young women in their 20’s don’t develop endometriosis.
The Facts: Women may not be diagnosed with endometriosis until they want to have a baby and find that their infertility has been impaired. Yet many teens and young women who may be suffering from endometriosis go undiagnosed because their painful periods are dismissed as normal. In one global study with 1400 female participants aged 18-45, it was found that as many as two-thirds of women with endometriosis sought help from their doctor for their symptoms before the age of 30. One fifth of these women were below the age of 19.
Myth # 3: You have to have all the textbook symptoms of endometriosis to be diagnosed with this condition.
The Facts: Some of the symptoms of endometriosis include: Painful periods, pelvic pain, ovulation pain, painful sex, heavy or irregular bleeding, fatigue, and pain during bowel movements or urination especially during menstruation. Some women with endometriosis will have none of these symptoms, some will have one primary symptom, and others will experience more than one symptom. Every woman is unique in how their symptoms may or may not manifest. It is also true that the severity or stage of one’s endometriosis does not always translate into severity of symptoms experienced. In my case I did not have any of these listed symptoms but when it came time to conceive, endometriosis was found to be the cause of my infertility.