March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, a movement across the globe to bring attention to a disease that affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide. Endometriosis can have a devastating effect on a woman’s quality of life due to its very painful symptoms and effect on fertility. Unfortunately, despite affecting millions of women, it still lurks very much in the shadows. Here are just some of the facts we all should know.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that should line the inside of a woman’s uterus grows outside of it instead. Even though the tissue is on the outside of the uterus, it still acts as it should during menstruation – breaking apart and bleeding every cycle.
Because the blood from this tissue has no place to go, surrounding areas of the body may become inflamed or swollen and scar tissue and lesions can develop. Endometriosis can occur anywhere around the uterus but is most often found on the ovaries.
Because the condition can vary so greatly from woman to woman, there are a wide variety of symptoms:
Women may also experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
At this time, we still do not know why endometriosis occurs, and there is no cure. Therefore, the healthcare industry tends to focus on pain and symptom management.
Treatments for endometriosis typically fall into the following categories:
If you think you may have endometriosis, drug maker AbbVie has a helpful website that can guide you through assessing your symptoms and preparing to have a productive conversation with your doctor.
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