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Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. It is not fully understood why this occurs, and in the past has been misdiagnosed because so little was known about the condition.

For women that have endometriosis, the endometrium can spread to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and intestines, and rarely to other organs further in the belly. The displaced endometrial tissue acts the same as the endometrial tissue inside the uterus — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped, causing several potential side effects. Cysts can form and surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions, causing pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other. These effects can be painful and can lead to infertility.

Symptoms of endometriosis include:
Painful, extended menstruation – severe cramping, with periods lasting longer than 7 days and/or heavy bleeding (having to change a tampon or pad every 2 hours throughout most of the period)

Nausea or vomiting

Painful intercourse

Bowel or urinary disorders – frequent urge to urinate, diarrhea, painful urination and bowel movements

Infertility – 30% – 40% of women that have endometriosis may experience infertility issues, however excision surgery can help improve fertility

Cysts, scar tissue and adhesions – when endometriosis is in the ovaries, cysts can form, when it touches other organs, scar tissue and adhesions can form and bind organs together, moving anatomy out of place.

Endometriosis can be treated, however, in several different ways depending on the severity of the condition. Hormone therapy and pain medication can be prescribed to lessen the pain during hormonal cycles. Laparoscopic surgery to remove some of the excess tissue while preserving the uterus and ovaries is an option for women that want to have future children. In severe cases of endometriosis, surgery to remove the uterus and cervix (total hysterectomy) as well as both ovaries may be the best treatment.

Learn more endometriosis and how we can help treat it:

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