Endometriosis is a common issue that affects 170 million women throughout the world. In the United States, 1 in 10 girls and women has endometriosis. It typically affects women in reproductive years, from age 12 to 60. Many women remain undiagnosed, however. Endometriosis affects women of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds equally. The condition occurs when tissue that is similar to the endometrium or the lining of the uterus is found outside of the uterus. It is typically found in the pelvic cavity, and it can attach to any female reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. It can also attach the uterosacral ligaments, the bladder, the intestines, or the appendix. What are the most common signs and symptoms of endometriosis?
Pelvic pain or abdominal pain
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain or lower abdominal pain. This is the symptom that causes most women who have endometriosis to see their physicians and be diagnosed with endometriosis. This can also mean pain during sexual activities and painful urination or bowel movements in addition to extreme cramps that do not go away with NSAIDS. This type of pelvic pain or lower abdominal pain interferes with daily life, which is how most women end up being diagnosed.
Heavy or prolonged menstrual cycles
Another symptom of endometriosis involves the menstrual cycle. Women with endometriosis have a heavy flow which requires them to change pads or tampons every hour or every two hours throughout the majority of their periods. Women who have endometriosis will also typically experience prolonged menstrual cycles or periods that last longer than seven days.
About 30-40% of women who are diagnosed with endometriosis will experience infertility issues. For some women with the condition, they do not realize they have it until they try to get pregnant. Studies have shown, however, that women who undergo surgery and treatment for endometriosis may become more fertile.
Gastrointestinal pain and nausea
Endometriosis can cause all sorts of gastrointestinal issues for women, including constipation, intestinal pain, diarrhea, and pain with bowel movements. For this reason, endometriosis can often be confused with irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms can look very similar to a food intolerance or a gastrointestinal problem, but endometriosis pain will not disappear with good bowel health.
Pain with intercourse
Another major sign of endometriosis is pain with sexual activity. Pain can occur during sex or right after sex. For some women, they will continue to experience pain the day after they have sex. Sexual intercourse is even more painful for these women when they are on their periods as the tissue becomes inflamed.
There are many other things that can cause most of these symptoms. However, if you have pelvic pain, gastrointestinal pain, and pain with intercourse, that may well be an indicator that you have endometriosis. If you think you may have endometriosis, you need to consult your physician so that he or she can properly diagnose and treat your condition.
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