That time of the month. A visit from your friend. The curse. Aunt Flo. There are so many euphemisms for menstruation that sometimes women and girls get the message they really shouldn’t mention it. Perhaps that’s why one of the mottos of the Endometriosis Association is “Let’s Talk About It.”
March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month.
The condition gets its name from the word endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis happens when this tissue grows outside of your uterus and on other areas in your body where it doesn't belong, such as the ovaries, according to The Office on Women’s Health. Endometriosis growths bleed in the same way the lining inside of the uterus does every month — during the menstrual period. This can cause swelling and pain because the tissue grows and bleeds in an area where it cannot easily get out of the body.
Thus, pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis and can include very painful menstrual cramps that get worse over time, back pain, and stomach pain. Researchers estimate that 11% of women and girls have this condition but may not be able to discern between normal menstrual cramps and endometriosis, so it is not discovered until they try to become pregnant. Endometriosis affects about one-half of women with infertility.
While there is no cure for endometriosis, there are several treatment options, including hormone therapy and surgery.