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Endometriosis is very common: More than 5 million American women have it. It can cause chronic pain, and sometimes infertility. There isn’t a cure for endometriosis, but it can be well-managed (often with hormonal birth control).

Endometriosis happens when the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) begins to grow outside of the uterus. It can occur any time after puberty, in anyone who has a uterus. It’s most often diagnosed in women who are in their 30s and 40s, but can also occur in the 20s.

The first, most common symptom is pain — which usually occurs in the pelvic region, just before or during your period. The pain can be very subtle, or it can be debilitating. Other symptoms might include: spotting/bleeding between periods, pain during sex, and/or intestinal pain. Some cases of endometriosis can lead to infertility.

Every person is the best judge of their own body, and the best judge of any changes to their health. If you notice anything unusual — pain, spotting, discharge, tenderness, or swelling — make an appointment with Planned Parenthood or another health care provider.

If you are having any pain or other symptoms: Your health issue may not be as serious as you think, but it’s definitely important to get a checkup and to talk to someone about your reproductive health care.

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