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What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis (say "en-doh-mee-tree-OH-sus") is a problem many women have during their childbearing years. It means that a type of tissue that lines your uterus is also growing outside your uterus; which is abnormal. This does cause many symptoms and it can cause moderate to severe pain and other problems.  
 
The clumps of tissue that grow outside your uterus are called implants. They usually grow on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the outer wall of the uterus, the intestines, or other organs in the belly. In rare cases, they spread to areas beyond the belly.
How does endometriosis cause problems?
Your uterus is lined with a type of tissue called endometrium (say "en-doh-MEE-tree-um"). It is like a soft nest where a fertilized egg can grow. Each month, your body releases hormones that cause the endometrium to thicken and get ready for an egg. If you get pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches to the endometrium and starts to grow. If you do not get pregnant, the endometrium breaks down, and your body sheds it asblood. This is yourmenstrual period.
 
When you have endometriosis, the implants of tissue outside your uterus act just like the tissue lining your uterus. During your menstrual cycle, they get thicker, then break down and bleed. But the implants are outside your uterus, so the blood cannot flow out of your body. The implants can get irritated and painful. Sometimes they form scar tissue or fluid-filled sacs (cysts). Scar tissue may make it hard to get pregnant. The implants begin to attack the female organs and sometimes other organs within the belly. The implants act like taffy pulling organs together which can cause excruciating pain and surgery is needed to separate the organs.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are:  
 
  •  Pain. Where it hurts depends on where the implants are growing. You may have pain in your lower belly, your rectum or vagina, or your lower back. You may have pain only before and during your periods or all the time. Some women have more pain during and after sex, when they have a bowel movement, or when their ovaries release an egg (ovulation).
 
  • Abnormal bleeding. Some women have heavy periods, spotting or bleeding between periods, bleeding during and after sex, or blood in their urine or stool.  Trouble getting pregnant (infertility) and ectopic pregnancy.
 
Endometriosis varies from woman to woman. Some women do not know that they have it until they go to see a doctor because they cannot get pregnant. Some have mild cramping that they think is normal for them. In other women, the pain and bleeding are so bad that they are not able to work or go to school.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
 
Many different problems can cause painful or heavy periods. To find out if you have endometriosis, your doctor will:
  • Ask questions about your symptoms, your periods, your past health, and your family history. Endometriosis sometimes runs in families.
  • Do a pelvic exam. This may include checking both your vagina and rectum.
If it seems like you have endometriosis, your doctor may suggest that you try medicine for a few months. If you get better using medicine, you probably have endometriosis.

 
To find out if you have a cyst on an ovary, you might have an imaging test like an ultrasound, an MRI, or a CT scan. These tests show pictures of what is inside your belly.
The only way to be sure you have endometriosis is to have a type of surgery called laparoscopy (say "lap-uh-ROS-cuh-pee"). During this surgery, the doctor puts a thin, lighted tube through a small cut in your belly. This lets the doctor see what is inside your belly. If the doctor finds implants, scar tissue, or cysts, he or she can remove them during the same surgery.
 
How is it treated?
 
There is No Cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that may help ease the pain. You may need to try several treatments to find what works best for you. With any treatment, there is a chance that your symptoms could come back.  
 
Treatment choices depend on whether you want to control pain or you want to get pregnant. For pain and bleeding, you can try medicines or surgery. If you want to get pregnant, you may need surgery to remove the implants.  Getting pregnant does not cure you from Endometriosis.  In some women, it has been found that their symptoms subsided during the pregnancy, but in most if not all cases the disease returned.