When periods become severely painful, many doctors will often try to decipher your symptoms to see if there is something more serious causing your discomfort. For many women those symptoms are usually a result of endometriosis. According to the Endometriosis Association, “Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the United States, one million in Canada and millions more worldwide.”
Endometriosis is when the tissue usually found in the uterus starts to form outside the uterine wall. The tissue causes pelvic pain as it accumulates in the pelvic area. Tissue can also build up in the bladder and bowel causing discomfort when you urinate and have a bowel movement.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with your menstrual period. Although, many women experience cramping during their menstrual period, women with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that's far worse than usual. They also tend to report that the pain has increased over time.”
The clinical term for painful periods is dysmenorrhea. Both pelvic pain and cramping can start with your premenstrual syndrome and last into the beginning days of your period. Frequently accompanying the pelvic pain is also stomach and lower back pain. Another major symptom of endometriosis is painful intercourse, again, aggravating the pelvic pain.
One reasons for the pelvic pain and other symptoms is that accumulation of tissue in areas other than the uterus has no way of leaving the body. The uterine lining sloughs off and leaves the body through the vagina during your period each month, but there is no exit route for tissue that is not in the uterus.
Periods are no picnic for most women, but the excessive bleeding associated with endometriosis makes this time of month even more unpleasant for women suffering from this condition. A major side effect often leading to an endometriosis diagnosis is infertility. Women who are unsuccessful at conceiving are often diagnosed with endometriosis. This is especially true as women wait longer and longer to have children.