When a "normal" woman (or girl) gets a period, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) sheds off and exits the body.  In a female with endometiosis (Endo), some of the tissue floats around the body, attaches to organs and/or walls, grows and bleeds.  The most common area for this to happen is around and on the reproductive organs, but can happen anywhere in the body, such as the diaphragm, lungs, heart, and brain.   Endo is an auto-immune condition and therefore it is common for women who suffer from it to also have other maladies as well.  Estrogen fuels endo and makes it grow.  There are many treatments for endometriosis, but still no cure.  Because the only way for it to be diagnosed is through surgery, the average span to get a diagnosis is 10 years! :(  It is referred to as the benign cancer.  Symptoms include, but are not limited to: heavy menstrual periods (and clotting), chronic abdominal and/or pelvic pain (anywhere from monthly to daily), back pain, bowel symptoms, bladder problems, pain with sexual activity, fatigue, and is the leading cause of infertility in the world. It is debilitating and very misunderstood.

The ERC (Endometriosis Research Center) states that "Endometriosis affects Endometriosis affects more women than breast cancer. However, the general public is not aware of the disease. Among many of those who are aware of this affliction, it is mistakenly believed to be an insignificant issue because of the misconceptions that have developed through the years. "My sister had that and she was 'cured' with birth control pills;" “I had that and it ‘went away’ when I got pregnant;” “My friend had that, and a hysterectomy ‘fixed’ her” are all common fallacies about Endometriosis. The misconception develops because there are women in the world who have had surgery, become pregnant or taken hormones and – temporarily - no longer suffer symptoms of Endometriosis. However, speak with the millions of women and girls who live with chronic daily pain, and they will tell you that having Endometriosis is no life at all.  Twice the number of Alzheimer’s patients and seven times those with Parkinson’s Disease, and is a leading cause of female infertility, chronic pelvic pain and gynecologic surgery.  It accounts for nearly half of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the United States annually. It is more prevalent than breast cancer, yet continues to be treated as an insignificant, obscure ailment. Recent studies have even shown an elevated risk of certain cancers in women with Endometriosis. Endometriosis can be so painful as to render a woman or teen unable to care for herself or her family or attend work, school or social functions. Endometriosis affects every aspect of a woman’s life, from her self-esteem to her relationships to her ability to be a contributing member of society."  Because of the efforts of the ERC, March is known as Endo. Awareness Month world-wide, with March 1st kicking it off with yellow shirt day!  “It is imperative that society begins to recognize the far-reaching impact this illness continues to have on patients of all ages, not just those trying to conceive, in order to ensure that our daughters do not continue to suffer as we have,” noted Heather Guidone, an ERC Executive Board Member and the Program Director of the Center for Endometriosis Care.

Informative Glossary of Terms