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March is Endometriosis Awareness month, and Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic’s 10 health centers in Westchester, Rockland, and Suffolk counties are raising awareness of and providing treatment for this common health problem that can cause chronic pain and, in some cases, infertility.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. The lining may grow on the bowel, ovaries, lining of the pelvic area, or other places within the body. It is most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s, although it can occur in anyone who has a uterus, including transgender individuals. The most common symptom is chronic pain, usually in the pelvic region, right before and during menstrual periods.

Pain from endometriosis can range from barely noticeable to preventing the affected person from getting out of bed in the morning. Other symptoms can include intestinal pain, spotting or bleeding between periods, pain during sex, and in some cases, infertility.

While there is no cure for endometriosis, the condition can often be managed with hormonal birth control. Birth control is basic health care and has important health benefits for women and their families. The most common reason women use the pill is to prevent pregnancy, though 58 percent of pill users also cite non-contraceptive health benefits as a contributing factor.

Endometriosis can greatly impact the physical, mental and social well-being of the sufferer. If you think you might have endometriosis, you should talk with your health care provider, or visit your local Planned Parenthood health center. Be honest and as specific as possible about your symptoms so they can provide the best care possible. The more your health care provider knows about you, the better they’re able to help you stay healthy.

Please visit www.pphp.org or call (800) 230-PLAN to find the health center closest to you. PPHP believes that everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care, and their doors are open to everyone.