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Q: What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects women's health. It occurs in about one in 10 women of reproductive age. With this condition, the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) implants outside of the uterus. These implants can occur in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, peritoneum, outer surface of the uterus, bowel, bladder, ureters, intestines and rectum. The implants respond to changes in estrogen and they may grow and bleed like the uterine lining does during the menstrual cycle. Surrounding tissues become swollen, inflamed and irritated. Scar tissue can also form. This bleeding and inflammation can be painful, especially before and during menstruation. If you have severe cramping or back pain with your period, heaving bleeding during periods or pain with intercourse, endometriosis may be the cause. While there is no known cure for endometriosis, treatments can reduce discomfort and manage symptoms. In addition to pain relievers like Ibuprofen, hormonal medications, including birth control pills, IUD's, and injectable medications can be helpful. If the problem is really severe, surgery can be helpful. A hysterectomy to remove the uterus is a final option if childbearing is complete.