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Endometriosis is a common disorder of the female reproductive organs and is considered as one of the main causes of chronic pelvic pain. This condition generally arise as a result of the growth of endometrial cells outside of the uterus. In the United States, approximately 6 million women suffer from this condition. Studies have also indicated that the disease is more common among Caucasians.
Normally, endometrial cells line the uterus and they are often responsive to the stimulation of hormones which are produced by the ovaries. These cells are then shed during menstruation. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial cells are growing in other areas outside the uterus, such as the ovaries, bladder, intestines and rectum. In rare cases, it may be found in the brain and in the lungs.
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Signs Symptoms of Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from one person to another. There are cases where women may experience no symptoms at all although they were diagnosed with the disease. It is also said that those with little or less severe symptoms are frequently the ones with more serious endometriosis.
The most common symptoms of endometriosis include painful menstrual periods or heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle. Women who have endometriosis may also experience pain in various parts of the body, particularly in the abdomen, lower back and pelvis. The pain may usually begin a week before the heavy menstrual flow and can linger for another 3 days after the menstrual cycle.
Women with endometriosis may experience prolonged pain and discomfort while having sexual intercourse. It is not uncommon for women who experience pain during sexual intercourse to have reduced sexual appetite in the long run.
Infertility can also be a sign of endometriosis. For unknown reasons, some women with this condition will also have difficulty in conceiving a child.
Some women who have the disease frequently experience pain in the upper parts of their legs and in between their hips. Some can experience pain all the time, while some may experience pain only during their menstrual periods. Still, there are some women who may only experience pain during sexual intercourse or while urinating.
Other less common symptoms of endometriosis include discomfort while urinating and bleeding in the rectum. Some women also experience bowel blockage which can indicate that the endometriosis has reached the intestines.
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Diagnosis and Treatment
An obstetrician will often diagnose endometriosis after performing a pelvic examination or after a transvaginal ultrasound. Treatment may involve the use of medications to relieve the patient's pain and discomfort. Surgery may be performed for its removal. These treatment procedures are dependent on the patient's present health status, severity of the signs symptoms of endometriosis, age and decision to have a child or more in the future.
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emedicinehealth: Endometriosis, http://www.emedicinehealth.com/endometriosis/article_em.htm#Endometriosis%20Overview
MedlinePlus: Endometriosis, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000915.htm
eHealthMD: What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?, http://www.ehealthmd.com/library/endometriosis/em_symptoms.html