Woman in jeans holding hands on abdomen as if in pain

Beyond Menstrual Pain


Most women experience cramping during their menstrual periods at some point in their reproductive lives. However, if pain is severe or regularly interferes with daily functioning, endometriosis might be to blame.

This painful condition occurs when the type of cells that normally line the uterus become displaced into other areas of the body such as the pelvic lining, bowel, or ovaries. The misplaced endometrial tissue continues to behave as if it were in the uterus, that is, it thickens and then breaks down and bleeds along with the menstrual cycle. The blood and tissue have no outlet and by remaining in the pelvis, cause pain. Women with endometriosis note that their menstrual pain increases over time, becoming far worse than ordinary cramping as they get older.

A major complication of endometriosis is infertility and women with endometriosis are encouraged not to delay pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy can lead to a lessening of symptoms but endometriosis does not end completely until menopause. If you are experiencing severe pain during your period, see an experienced OB/GYN for an exam and recommendations for next steps.

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