endometriosisUp to 80 percent of women with endometriosis experience pain. That’s because, along with the normal shedding of the uterine lining during their periods, the endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus also sheds. But unlike the lining that exits your body through the vagina, this tissue has nowhere to go so it causes inflammation and builds up into lesions. These attach themselves to the bowels, cervix, ovaries and other parts of the abdomen, and lead to pain during intercourse, bowel movements and ovulation, as well as lower back pain’even when you’re not having your period. Severity of pain ranges from mild to severe and is based on many factors including a woman’s age, and the location and extent of the lesions. A 2010 survey of 107 women with endometriosis published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that most women experienced pain that got in the way of regular activities such as work, household chores, sex and sleeping.

Infertility: Difficulty conceiving can be a symptom of endometriosis, and in many cases women are diagnosed with the condition only when they start to investigate the cause of their infertility. About 30 to 40 percent of women struggling with infertility may be diagnosed with endometriosis: Lesions and scarring may affect the function of the Fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. As well, the condition could be causing inflammation that disrupts the reproductive system overall. In particular, women with endometriosis have more ovarian cysts than women who don’t have it. Ovarian cysts cause inflammation, which leads to an earlier decline in the number of eggs in the ovaries’meaning a woman may struggle to get pregnant. In these cases, they may need to turn to IVF to conceive.

However, when the prognosis of their endometriosis is good (for example, it’s not affecting the ovaries), women have an 80 to 90 percent chance of getting pregnant after having laparoscopic surgery to treat it and can start trying to conceive about one to two weeks after surgery. If a woman is still unable to get pregnant after laparoscopic surgery, fertility doctors will try ovulation drugs, intrauterine insemination or IVF.

Fatigue: Women with endometriosis often feel tired. Many women with endometriosis may have thyroid problems that cause fatigue. Even when that is ruled out or treated, they can still feel tired simply because they are always coping with pain. If they get pain relief, the fatigue may get better.