There have been a few celebrities lately who have been brave enough to speak up about their menstrual health, particularly about their battles with endometriosis. Julianne Hough, Padma Lakshmi, and Lena Dunham are some of the more outspoken women who are trying to spread awareness about this disorder, which causes the tissue that's supposed to grow inside the uterus to grow somewhere outside of it. Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women, and it's an extremely painful condition to live with.
There's some confusion out there as to what endometriosis actually looks like, and that's mainly due to the fact that we haven't been properly educated on how this condition affects women. POPSUGAR spoke with Jennifer Wider, MD, a renowned women's health expert and author, who set the record straight on what the signs of endometriosis are.
Dr. Wider says these are the most common symptoms to watch out for:
- Severe cramps
- Heavy bleeding
- Back pain during menstruation
- Pain during sex
- Pain during bowel movements or urination
"Some women have a hard time conceiving," Dr. Wider added. Endometriosis can potentially affect your fertility, particularly if it's left untreated.
Because endometriosis isn't talked about in great length in public, it's hard for many women to know when they should talk to their doctor about these symptoms, and it can even be difficult to get a diagnosis. "Many women have trouble getting the proper diagnosis, but if you have any of these symptoms and/or have a hard time conceiving, endometriosis should be on the list of things to consider," Dr. Wider told POPSUGAR.
If you find that your period is stopping you from going about your daily life — work, personal relationships, fitness, etc. — then it's definitely worth chatting with your medical provider. Even if you don't have endometriosis, it helps to get the tests done and know for sure.
Although there isn't a cure for endometriosis, Dr. Wider says there are plenty of treatments that can help you live a normal life. "Medication (pain medication, birth control pills, hormonal therapies) and/or surgery [can] manage the condition," she explained. You won't know what treatment is best for you until you speak with your doctor, though.
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