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Fast Facts on Endometriosis

Posted Dec 02 2008 7:21pm


What it is

Each month, the endometrial tissue normally builds up in the uterus. This tissue and blood is shed as your monthly period. Endometriosis occurs when this tissue grows outside of the uterus.

What it looks like
Bumps, scars, or fluid-filled sacs called cysts.

Cause

No one knows exactly what causes endometriosis.

Where it grows

It mostly grows in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvic areas: on or under the ovaries, on the bowels or bladder, behind the uterus, on the tissues that hold the uterus in place. When endometrial tissue is outside your uterus, this tissue is still shed monthly. But because this tissue is not where it is supposed to be, it can’t leave a woman’s body the way a woman’s period normally does. These areas may hurt
nearby tissues and can damage your organs.

Symptoms

- Very painful cramps or periods
- Heavy periods
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Lower back pain
- Intestinal pain
- Pain during or after sex
- Can’t get pregnant
- Painful bowel movements (BM) or pain passing urine during your period
- Tiredness
- Stomach problems

Tests

- Medical history
- Pelvic exam
- Physical exam
- Tests that create a “picture” of the inside of your body (ultrasound)
- Laparoscopy—surgery when your doctor places a small tube with a light inside your abdomen to see if you have endometriosis

Treatment

- Pain medicine
- Hormone therapy
- Surgery

Source: National Women’s Health Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.womenshealth.gov

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