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Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is highlighting the importance of regular checkups and body self-awareness throughout March, Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is a leading cause of infertility in women, but it can be managed effectively with hormonal birth control.

Planned Parenthood provides affordable, quality care, and can help you manage your endometriosis pain,” said Bronwen Berlekamp O’Wril, NP and PPNNE Regional Clinical Director. “As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider, advocate, and educator, Planned Parenthood encourages every woman to visit her health care provider regularly and to ask any questions she has about changes in her body, birth control, cancer screenings, or testing for STIs, including HIV.”

Endometriosis is a common health problem that occurs when tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus and can cause chronic pain, and in some cases, infertility. Other symptoms can include intestinal pain, spotting or bleeding between periods, and pain during sex.

Endometriosis affects more than five million women in the U.S. It’s most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s, although it can occur in anyone who has a uterus, including transgender individuals. While there is no cure, for many people the condition can be managed with hormonal birth control, which is a treatment for the chronic pain of endometriosis. While the most common reason women use the pill is to prevent pregnancy, 58 percent of pill users also cite non-contraceptive health benefits as a contributing factor. 

“Birth control is basic health care,” said Berlekamp O’Wril. “Not only does birth control help reduce the rates of unintended pregnancy, but for the over five million women living with endometriosis, it can also help control chronic pain.”

If you think you might have endometriosis, you should make an appointment with your health care provider. It’s important for you to 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.

Diagnosing endometriosis may require a surgical biopsy that is commonly obtained through a minimally invasive procedure called a laparoscopy.  Like most primary care physicians, Planned Parenthood health center doctors and nurses work to connect patients who may have symptoms of endometriosis with outside specialists.

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About PPNNE: PPNNE, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care services, and sexuality education in northern New England. Last year, PPNNE served more than 41,000 women, men, and teens across 21 health centers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and provided $7.2 million worth of free and discounted health care. To learn more, visit http://www.ppnne.org