Dr. Marc Laufer, founder of the Boston Center for Endometriosis

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Today’s post is written by Dr. Marc Laufer, a senior gynecologist in the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also founded the Boston Center for Endometriosis in 2012. This post also appeared on the blog of RESOLVE New England, a nonprofit organization helping patients facing fertility issues.

Recently, I saw 37-year-old woman who was concerned about her difficulty becoming pregnant after she and her husband had been trying for four months. Though her pelvic ultrasound was normal, she mentioned she had significant pain during her periods and some pain with sex. She had experienced this pain for many years. Given her history, I suspected she might be suffering from endometriosis.

Endometriosis occurs when the cells that normally line the inside of the uterus (endometrial cells) are found in other parts of the body, usually in the abdomen or pelvic cavity. Endometriosis can cause severe pain and, if undiagnosed or untreated, can result in fertility problems. There is no correlation between the amount of disease and the amount of pain experienced. Some women have a small amount of disease but experience significant pain, while others have no pain but still experience fertility problems. The more advanced your endometriosis, the more difficult it may be to become pregnant.

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