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Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is a disorder that causes tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus to grow outside of the uterus.

This displaced uterine tissue (also called endometrium) grows in areas it shouldn’t, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even the intestines.

Endometriosis can affect every woman differently, sometimes making it difficult to identify and diagnose. While some women don’t exhibit symptoms, others may experience a variety of very menacing symptoms that interrupt daily life.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
  • Pelvic pain in between periods (non-menstrual pelvic pain)
  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility struggles
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Long periods lasting more than one week
  • Vomiting during your period
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin, or lower back
  • Excessive pain, exhaustion, or feeling of physical weakness that keeps you from normal daily activities

Symptoms of endometriosis oftentimes overlaps with symptoms of uterine fibroids, so it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor so an accurate diagnosis can be given.

So, once you get the diagnosis of endometriosis, what are your options?

First, it’s important to note that doctors and scientists are still doing important work to better understand the cause of this condition. According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, “there is likely a genetic component to endometriosis. Girls who have a close female relative are 5 to 7 times more likely to have it themselves, but more research is necessary to fully understand the genetic characteristics of endometriosis.”

What endometriosis sufferers do have available to them is a variety of treatment options. These treatment therapies help to minimize the symptoms of endometriosis and improve the patient’s quality of life while battling the condition. Treatment for endometriosis typically involves medication or surgery.

Oftentimes women don’t consider participating in clinical trials until all other traditional treatment options have failed. But the truth of the matter is: clinical research studies are designed to offer innovations in medical technology and treatment modalities before they are made widely available to the public. In many cases, clinical trials shouldn’t be a last resort, but instead a first line of defense against a condition like endometriosis that currently has no known cure.