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Endometriosis is a disorder that causes the lining of the uterus to grow outside the uterine cavity. This misplaced tissue usually stays within the pelvic region (though not always), and commonly involves the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can lead to lower abdominal pain, scar formation, adhesions, and even infertility. It can also cause severe pain during your periods or while having sex. (On the other hand, it can also cause no pain at all—everyone is different!) Endometriosis is estimated to affect about 10% of women during their reproductive years, but the true number is unknown because many women don’t report their symptoms or seek treatment. So if you suspect something’s up, don’t grit your teeth and try to bear the pain alone. You want to seek treatment and support—especially because endometriosis has fertility implications. Talk to a practitioner you trust who will take your concerns seriously and help you get a diagnosis—and be ready to discuss your symptoms. What kind of pain are you having? Where and when does it hurt? The practitioner will do a pelvic exam (mostly to rule out other causes) and imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI. In some cases, you may be referred to a surgeon for a procedure called a laparoscopy. It’s not as scary as it sounds! The surgeon makes a tiny incision near your belly button in order to insert the laparoscope, which is a tool that will help them see signs of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Treatment usually includes medications (pain relievers and hormonal meds) and if that doesn’t help, surgery may be necessary. You can try simple things at home like warm baths or heating pads to help relax the pelvic muscles and reduce cramping/pain. Some women have found that natural remedies provide pain relief, including herbs, such as cinnamon twig and licorice root; supplements, such as thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium, and omega-3s; and acupuncture. Remember, it’s fairly easy to minimize your pain when it’s related to your period or sex, so don't ignore it!

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The Doctor Will See You Now: Recognizing and Treating Endometriosis

Endometriosis materializes when the endometrium – the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus – sheds, but does not exit a woman’s body during her period. Instead, it grows outside of the uterus, spreading to organs and nerves in and around the pelvic region. The resulting pain is so physically and emotionally insufferable that it can mercilessly dominate a woman’s life. The average woman with endometriosis is twenty-seven years old before she is diagnosed. It is one of the top three causes of female infertility. The pain it emits can affect a woman’s career, social life, relationships, sexual activity, sleep, and diet. It is incurable, but highly treatable. Unfortunately, though, it is rarely treated in a timely manner, if at all, because of misdiagnoses and/or a lack of education among those in the medical community. This book gives hope to everyone connected to endometriosis. That includes every woman and young girl who has it, and the women and men in their lives – the mothers, fathers, husbands, children, and friends – who know something is wrong, but do not know what it is or what to do about it. This book is written at a level that everyone with ties to this disease can relate to and understand, but it is also for doctors with good intentions who lack the knowledge of how to diagnose or treat it. The Doctor Will See You Now is for women determined to let the world know their stories so that every woman with this disease – from the thirteen-year-old girl who is being told that her pain is “part of becoming a woman” to the woman who has been misdiagnosed for decades – knows she is not alone. Yes, her pain is real. No, she is not crazy. Yes, there is hope.

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