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Endometriosis

Endometriosis is more than just a painful affliction-it's also one of the leading causes of infertility, and affects as many as 10 percent of women.

Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissues grows outside of the uterus instead of inside the uterus. Tissue will grow on organ surfaces in the abdomen or pelvis near the uterus which can cause severe pelvic pain, painful sexual intercourse, extreme fatigue and disabling cramps, as well as extremely painful bowel movements or urination during a woman's period. It is also the most prominent cause of infertility (about 30 to 40 percent of women with this condition are infertile).

The cause of endometriosis is not fully known. Some researchers believe it may be genetic, while others blame immune disorders or cellular changes. Endometriosis appears in somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of women of reproductive age, and affects about 5.5 million women in North America.

While doctors now have a number of tests to look for endometriosis, surgery is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have the condition. There is currently no cure for endometriosis; however, pain medications and hormonal therapy can be used to treat the symptoms and infertility associated with endometriosis; in some cases, surgery is required to remove large growths of endometrial tissue.