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What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a problem that affects your reproductive organs and menstrual cycle. It can cause cramps and pain during your periods. Or you may have pelvic pain the whole month.

Cross section side view of uterus showing endometrium lining inside.
The endometrium lines the uterus. It thickens with blood every month.

Cross section side view of uterus showing endometriosis implants outside of uterus.
With endometriosis, endometrial tissue grows throughout your pelvic cavity.

Understanding Endometriosis

With endometriosis, tissue inside the uterus begins to grow where it should not. Tissue can also grow inside the pelvic cavity. During your menstrual cycle, this extra tissue swells with blood. The tissue may also release tiny drops of blood. The swelling and blood irritate nearby tissues. This causes pain and cramps. This irritation may cause scar tissue to form. This scar tissue can bind organs together. It can also cause problems getting pregnant (infertility). 

Common Symptoms

If you have endometriosis, you may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Cramps and menstrual pain

  • Pelvic pain

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

  • Trouble getting pregnant (infertility)

Treatment Options

Treatment may help relieve pain. It may also help restore fertility. Options include hormone therapy, surgery, or both. Medications may also help relieve some of your symptoms. Talk with your health care provider about these options.

Endometriosis can cause pain during sex. Explore whether sex during certain times of the month is less painful for you. Certain positions may also cause pain. Find out which positions reduce pain for you.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/25/2014
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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