Healthy New Jersey

Periods (menstruation)


Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside the uterus. It is a chronic and progressive condition that causes pain, scarring, and bloating throughout the menstrual cycle. Tissue growth can occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic organs, and in rare cases, it may spread to other organs.

Endometriosis can affect women of any age, including teenagers, but there are treatments that can help.


Symptoms of endometriosis can vary. Some experience significant discomfort and pain, while others have no noticeable symptoms. 

Common symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Pain more intense than cramps in the lower abdomen before and during periods 
  • Discomfort during or after sexual activity
  • Painful urination or bowel movements during periods
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, constipation, or nausea
Unbearable period pain is not typical.

Speak to your health care provider if you have prolonged, acute period pain, bleeding, or experience any other symptom of endometriosis.

Be prepared to talk about symptoms you are experiencing.

Causes of endometriosis

The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown.

Causes could include:

  • Genetics - endometriosis tends to run in families and affects people of certain ethnic groups more than others.
  • Immune system issues

The condition also could likely caused by a combination of different factors.

Diagnosing Endometriosis

To confirm a diagnosis, health care provders usually perform a laparoscopy under anesthesia. During laparoscopy, health care provders observe the location, size, and extent of the endometrial growths. This procedure will help you and your health care provider make an informed decision about treatment options.

Failing to diagnose and address the early symptoms of endometriosis in girls and young women can lead to prolonged pain in later years.


Treatments that could ease the symptoms include:

Pain relievers

You can use both prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation and help manage the pain associated with endometriosis.

Hormonal birth control

Using hormonal birth control can regulate estrogen levels and reduce pain during your period if you have endometriosis. Options include birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, progestin injections, and implants.


Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can diagnose endometriosis and remove the tissue causing pain. There are a varierty of procedures including destroying the surface of endometriosis lesions or removing the lesions.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist medications

These medications block the receptors in the brain responsible for producing estrogen. By reducing estrogen levels in the body, they can help alleviate endometriosis pain.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist medications

These medications stimulate the same receptors in the brain but eventually make them less sensitive. This leads to decreased estrogen production, which can relieve endometriosis pain. They are usually administered through injections or nasal sprays.

Hysterectomy (HISS-ter-REKT-uh-mee)

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, and sometimes the ovaries, which can provide pain relief. It is considered a last-resort treatment option due to its complexity and irreversible nature.

Living with endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic condition, and you may find it helpful to contact organizations, such as the Endometriosis Association, for information and advice.


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