1. Endometriosis is a noncancerous condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of reproductive-age women who menstruate, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
2. About 5.5 million women in the U.S. and Canada are diagnosed with the disease each year.
3. Endometriosis develops when cells from the endometrium — or uterine lining — grow outside the uterus and adhere to other structures, most commonly the ovaries, bowel, fallopian tubes, or bladder. Endometrial tissue may also migrate outside of the pelvic cavity to distant parts of the body. Researchers aren't sure what causes this condition.
4. Symptoms of endometriosis can range from no symptoms to mild pain to pain that is so severe it completely interferes with a woman's ability to lead a normal life. Other symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping, diarrhea and painful bowel movements during menstruation, and painful intercourse.
5. A laparoscope is commonly used to diagnose this condition, and may also be used in the surgical treatment of endometriosis. Laparoscopy allows a surgeon to view abnormalities in the pelvic region by inserting a miniature telescope through the abdominal wall, usually through the navel. While this is the best method of definitive diagnosis available, not seeing endometric tissue doesn't mean it isn't present.
6. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can temporarily halt the painful symptoms of endometriosis. Menstruation stops during pregnancy, so pain and discomfort associated with the menstrual cycle are absent.
7. There is no cure for endometriosis. Treatment options include surgery and medical therapies. Medical therapies include hormonal contraceptives and other hormonal regimens, such as GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) agonists, that control hormonal stimulation of the endometrial tissue.
8. There is some evidence that a family history of endometriosis may contribute to your likelihood of developing this disease. If you have a mother or sister who is battling endometriosis or has been diagnosed with it, there is a seven-fold higher chance that you will develop the disease.
9. Medical research indicates that daughters of women who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) during the years 1938 through 1971 to prevent miscarriage have an increased risk of developing this disease.