How to Tame the Pain of Endometriosis

If a woman has endometriosis, some of the tissue that normally grows inside her uterus grows outside of it. This out-of-place tissue may grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, or other areas of her uterus or body. It’s fairly common and is estimated to affect about one in 10 women during their childbearing years.

The cause of the disorder is still unknown, though many theories exist. Some say menstrual blood backflow is the culprit. Estrogen levels and genetics are also possible causes.

What is known are the factors that make women more likely to develop endometriosis. These include:

  • Never having children

  • Having menstrual periods that last more than seven days

  • Having short menstrual cycles (27 days or fewer)

  • Having a family member with endometriosis

The Most Common Sign: Pain

When a woman with endometriosis has her period, the misplaced tissue can swell and bleed. This can trigger pain in the pelvis, or lower abdomen. Other symptoms can include:

  • Low back pain

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Heavy periods or bleeding between periods

  • Pain when urinating or during bowel movements when menstruating

  • Trouble becoming pregnant

Beat the Discomfort

Some women find help with over-the-counter naproxen or ibuprofen, diet changes, and exercise. Endometriosis can also be treated with surgery, which can provide relief from pain and improve fertility. Talk with your health care provider about your options.