Affecting 1 in 10 women of reproductive age, endometriosis is a chronic condition associated with severe, life-impacting pain during periods, sexual intercourse, bowel movements and/or urination, chronic pelvic pain, abdominal bloating, nausea, fatigue, and sometimes depression, anxiety, and infertility.
With endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus that leads to inflammation and scar tissue forming in the pelvic region. The bleeding, inflammation, and scarring can cause pain, especially before and during menstruation.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is long-term pelvic pain, especially just before and during the menstrual period. Pain also may occur during sexual intercourse. If endometriosis affects the bowel, there can be pain during bowel movements. If it affects the bladder, there can be pain during urination. Heavy menstrual bleeding is another symptom of endometriosis.
Endometriosis symptoms are variable and broad, meaning that healthcare providers may not easily diagnose it. Individuals with symptoms may not be aware of the condition. Many women with endometriosis have no symptoms. Women without symptoms often learn they have endometriosis when they cannot get pregnant or when they are having surgery for something else.
Treatment for endometriosis depends on the extent of the disease, your symptoms, and whether you want to have children. Endometriosis may be treated with medication, surgery, or both. When pain is the primary problem, medication usually is tried first.