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  1. Knowledge and News on Women: OWH Blog

Understanding Endometriosis: From Symptoms to Treatment

Knowledge and News on Women’s Health (KNOWH) blog from FDA Office of Women’s Health

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and is an opportunity for all women to understand more about this condition, what symptoms to look for, and potential treatment options they can discuss with their health care providers.

What is endometriosis? 

Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places in the body. It is one of the most common gynecological diseases, and its primary symptoms include pain and infertility.Endometriosis may affect more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44. Endometriosis can develop in any girl or woman who has menstrual periods but is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s and may make it harder to get pregnant.2

Endometriosis growths are benign (not cancerous). But they can still cause problems. Endometriosis growths may swell and bleed in the same way the lining inside of your uterus does every month—during your menstrual period. This can cause swelling and pain because the tissue grows and bleeds in an area where it cannot easily get out of your body.2

Women with endometriosis may experience a variety of symptoms which may include:

  • Heavy menstrual periods 
  • Problems getting pregnant
  • Painful menstrual cramps that may worsen over time
  • Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain in the intestine or lower abdomen
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • Stomach (digestive) problems such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms talk with your health care provider. They may perform a pelvic exam, an imaging test (such as an ultrasound), or a laparoscopy, a type of surgery that doctors can use to look inside your pelvic area, to determine if you have endometriosis.

Treatment for endometriosis

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There is no cure for endometriosis, but treatments are available for the symptoms and problems it causes. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved elagolix (Orilissa®) for the treatment of pain associated with endometriosis—the first and only pill specifically approved for endometriosis pain-relief.3, 4 

Talk with your health care provider about which treatment options are best for you.

Learn more about endometriosis diagnosis and treatment at the following resources.

For resources and materials on other women’s health topics, visit www.fda.gov/womenshealthtopics.




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