March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is taking the opportunity to encourage women to put their health first and remember to go for regular checkups.
“Endometriosis Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity to schedule an appointment with your health care provider,” Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of External Medical Affairs, said in a press release. “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 ask any questions she has about birth control, cancer screenings, changes in her body, or testing for STIs [sexually transmitted infections], including HIV. Planned Parenthood is an expert on reproductive health care, and can help you manage your endometriosis pain.”
Endometriosis’ most common symptom is chronic pain, typically in the pelvic region, just before and during menstrual periods. Pain can range from light to severe, and other symptoms include intestinal pain, spotting or bleeding between periods and pain during sexual activity.
“If you think you might have endometriosis, you should talk with your health care provider, or visit your local Planned Parenthood health center,” said Dr. Cullins. “Don’t let anxiety keep you from taking care of your health and your body — you can ask family and friends to help make an appointment or go with you, and you’ll feel relieved if you address your problem and get the help you need.”
Dr. Cullins added that if anyone noticing physical changes out of the ordinary, like lumps, swelling, pain, or spotting, should talk to a healthcare provider. It’s important to know your body and acknowledge changes, she said. “Find a provider you feel comfortable with and be as honest and specific as possible about your symptoms, so she or he can provide you with the best care possible. The more your health care provider knows about you, the better he or she will be able to help you stay healthy.”
Planned Parenthood is the leading U.S. healthcare provider for women and the largest provider of sex education. Currently, it serves 2.5 million patients per year at over 650 centers.
Endometriosis is caused by tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) that grows outside the uterus. The lining may grow on the bowel, ovaries, pelvic area, or elsewhere in the body. It most commonly affects women in their 30s and 40s, and can lead to infertility.