March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. This is a very worthy cause that continues to have low visibility despite the fact that so many women suffer from the disorder every day. For this reason, we must work together to bring this issue to light.
The Million Women March will take place in 53 cities around the world, including Washington, D.C. on March 13, 2014. This first-ever Worldwide Endo March aims to educate women and the general public about this serious issue.
With anything, the more information you have, the better it is. Knowledge really is power. You may be surprised to learn the following facts about endometriosis.
- Approximately 1 in 8 women and girls, or five million women in the United States, will be affected by endometriosis which can cause mild to severe pain.
- Women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to develop the condition.
- Symptoms tend to improve or stop during pregnancy and with menopause.
- The condition often goes undiagnosed for 6-10 years since early pain can be mistaken for menstrual cramps or other diseases.
- Endometriosis can damage your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can spread and damage organs outside of the reproductive system. It can also affect your ability to get pregnant.
- You are at greater risk for endometriosis if you have never had children, have long periods, short menstrual cycles, have a family history of the disorder, have damage to the cells in the pelvis from infection or suffer from a condition that prevents the normal flow of menstrual blood.
- The chances of developing the disorder can be reduced by exercising regularly, maintaining a low amount of body fat and avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
- While endometriosis can be treated, there is no cure.
The best place to discuss endometriosis is in your doctor’s office but you can also be on the lookout for possible symptoms of the disorder. They include:
- Very painful menstrual cramps that may worsen over time.
- Pain during or after sex.
- Chronic pain in your lower back and pelvic region.
- Painful bowel movements, intestinal pain, painful urination during menstruation.
- Spotting or bleeding between periods.
- Diarrhea, constipation, excessive bloating or nausea, particularly during menstruation.
If you identify with the above symptoms or believe you may have endometriosis for other reasons, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your doctor. They will be able to order tests, which typically include a pelvic exam and ultrasound, to help determine whether you have the condition.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has a website for the Office on Women’s Health which offers a fairly comprehensive fact sheet on endometriosis that includes up-to-date research on the causes, treatments and outcomes for those living with the disorder.
If you suspect that you may have endometriosis, don’t put it off – seek a professional opinion sooner than later. At the very least, you will have peace of mind knowing what is going on in your body.