Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that appears similar to the uterine lining (endometrial tissue) grows outside of the uterus and in other areas of the pelvis, such as the ovaries and pelvic walls, causing uncomfortable side effects, like extreme pelvic pain, irregular menstrual bleeding and pain during intercourse.
Although an estimated 10% of women in childbearing age are diagnosed with endometriosis, there are still many misconceptions out there. Karen Tang, MD, a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon with Axia Women's Health at the Women's Specialty Center at Main Line Health King of Prussia, specializes in unique gynecological conditions. She recently helped us recognize four endometriosis myths and provided the facts for each.
Myth: Endometriosis is a rare condition.
Fact: Endometriosis is fairly common, but often undiagnosed.
Endometriosis symptoms are often dismissed as part of a typical period, with most women waiting an estimated seven years before a proper diagnosis. Up to 10% of women may have endometriosis, and it can also affect transgender men, even if on testosterone treatment.
Myth: Endometriosis is just a really bad period.
Fact: Endometriosis is a pelvic disorder that can impact your health.
The most common symptoms of endometriosis include pain with periods, pain with sex or bowel movements, and irregular bleeding. While many women are told that these are “normal” period symptoms, extreme pain or other persistent bothersome symptoms like these can indicate an underlying condition like endometriosis. They should be evaluated by a gynecologist.
Myth: Endometriosis doesn't affect your chances of getting pregnant.
Fact: Endometriosis can cause infertility.
In fact, almost 50% of women experiencing infertility may have endometriosis. Endometriosis can generate an inflammatory response, causing problematic scar tissue.
Myth: Endometriosis can't be fixed.
Fact: Surgery can help alleviate symptoms.
Endometriosis is a treatable condition, with diagnosis made by laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive option that uses a small camera to determine if endometrial lesions are present and allows the surgeon to safely remove any visible endometriosis. There are also a variety of treatment options that can help endometriosis symptoms, including birth control, progesterone IUDs or anti-inflammatory medications.