Each year, more than five million women experience a painful condition that can affect their fertility: endometriosis. You’ve probably heard about the condition most recently from Girls star Lena Dunham.

So what is endometriosis exactly? It’s a condition that occurs when the tissue that typically grows in your uterus (known as the endometrium) starts growing in other places. Examples include the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, bowel, bladder, or rectum.

This is a problem for endometriosis sufferers because the tissue in the uterus bleeds. When it is located in other parts of the body, the bleeding can cause swelling, pain, and other complications depending on where the tissue is located.

What are the symptoms?
Women with endometriosis experience very intense menstrual cramping, pain during or after sex, pain when having a bowel movement, and/or pelvic pain. Other symptoms associated with endometriosis include:

• Bleeding/spotting between periods
• Stomach concerns, such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea
• Trouble getting pregnant
• Unexplained fatigue

Am I at Risk?
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes endometriosis, but they have some ideas. The most accepted thought is that some blood and tissue from a period flows backwards instead of forwards, which can cause tissue changes. You’re also more likely to have the condition if a family member has it. Women in their 30s and 40s are also more likely to experience endometriosis.

Treatments for Endometriosis
Talk to your gynecologist. He or she can do studies, such as a pelvic exam, imaging tests, or a tissue biopsy, to determine if endometriosis could be a cause.

xx, The FabFitFun Team