Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally grows on the inside of the uterus grows on the outside, which causes chronic, shooting pain in their uterus. About 1 in 10 women in the US suffer from the condition, and although symptoms can start at any age, they generally start in women's thirties or forties.
Symptoms can range from mildly frustrating to chronically unbearable. What causes endometriosis? It's difficult to know. So far there are only theories: erratic stem cell growth, environmental toxins, autoimmune irregularity, or retrograde periods (when menstrual flows backwards into the fallopian tubes). The condition often gets misdiagnosed as fibroids, cysts, appendicitis, sexually transmitted diseases, or even cancer, making it even harder for patients to receive the correct care.
But even for those who are correctly diagnosed, there are relatively few solutions available. They can self-manage their diet by limiting caffeine, alcohol, red meats, and high-fat foods or take pain medication. For many, a more drastic solution is required, like undergoing mildly invasive surgeries to remove the growths—or even the entire uterus, in extreme cases. Very few solutions are pain-free and risk-free, and all of them only address the symptoms.