Chronic pelvic pain — typically during menstruation — is the most common indication of endometriosis, an incurable inflammatory condition that can cause infertility, an expert says. In fact, it is among one of the leading causes of infertility in Black women.
About 10% of women have the disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it and can spread to areas such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and pelvis. A study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that 40% of African American women who were told they had pelvic inflammatory disease actually had endometriosis.
More than painful periods
“The most common symptom of endometriosis is painful periods,” says Dr. Kristin Riley, interim chief of the Division of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.
“We’re talking about the kind of pain that doesn’t go away with a simple treatment, like over-the-counter medications,” she said in a center news release. “Pain that keeps you from going to work or school or from participating in social activities.”
Typically, the pain occurs before, during or just after periods. But Riley says some women may only have pain during ovulation or intercourse, while others experience pain only during bowel movements.
“Some people get painful flares and then get relief for a long period of time,” Riley adds.
Approximately one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant because endometriosis may obstruct the tube and keep the egg and sperm from uniting. Additionally, the condition may damage the sperm or the egg.
Despite this, many women with mild to moderate endometriosis can still conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. In order to achieve this,