Pregnancy

What Women Should Know About Endometriosis

Eileen Bailey May 20th, 2014 (updated Jun 11th, 2015)
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Endometriosis may cause infertility
Endometriosis may cause infertility

Approximately 30 to 40 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, many women with endometriosis can, and do, successfully get pregnant and have children. Other health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant, too. If you are under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for one year or more, you should talk to your doctor. 

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Endometriosis affects women of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic statuses
Endometriosis affects women of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic statuses

It develops during childbearing years, and anytime from the first menstrual period until menopause. Symptoms frequently disappear after menopause, but a few women do continue to experience pain past menopause.

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The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, pelvic pain and lower back pain
The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, pelvic pain and lower back pain

Women with endometriosis might have very painful menstrual cramps, heavy periods, spotting between periods, intestinal pain and pain during or after sex. They may also have gastrointestinal symptoms that mimic a bowel disorder.

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Diagnosing endometriosis usually includes a laparoscopy
Diagnosing endometriosis usually includes a laparoscopy

This is when a small telescope is inserted into your abdomen through a small incision. You are given general anesthesia before this procedure and the surgery usually takes around 20 minutes and is often done as outpatient surgery. 

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Birth control pills are frequently used to treat endometriosis
Birth control pills are frequently used to treat endometriosis

The pill helps regulate your menstrual cycles and controls the symptoms of endometriosis. Some women find symptoms are very painful when they go off the pill. A hormonal coil might also help. In some cases, you might require laparoscopy surgery to remove cysts and adhesions from inside the abdomen and pelvic cavities. In severe cases, you might require an hysterectomy. 

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There is no “one” treatment right for everyone
There is no “one” treatment right for everyone

Because endometriosis varies in severity and can occur at different ages, treatment should be based on your individual situation. Treatments are often successful at managing the symptoms and it is important to work together with your doctor to find the treatment right for your situation. 

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The cause of endometriosis is not fully understood
The cause of endometriosis is not fully understood

While doctors know what doesn’t cause endometriosis - such as lifestyle choices - they do believe that your chances of developing endometriosis is higher if you have family members with the disease. You should let your doctor know if your mother, grandmother, or sisters have this disease.