Endometriosis is a condition that many women don't know about, even though they have it. If you've been looking for answers as to why your periods hurt so much and have stumbled across endometriosis, you should know that it's possible for any woman to develop this condition. Here's what you should know to understand the basics about endometriosis.

What It Is

Endometriosis is just one thing: uterine tissue that's developed somewhere it shouldn't have.

Under normal circumstances, women have a uterus that's capable of going through a menstrual cycle and helping a fetus to develop. However, under rarer circumstances, this same tissue that makes up the uterus can develop elsewhere in the body. While it's typically restricted to the pelvis, some women have even had endometriosis on the brain, quite literally.

What Happens Every Month

When you go through your monthly cycle with, let's say, 'standard equipment,' the uterus sheds its lining and bleeding begins to start. Gradually this comes to an end, and with it, the period stops. This can create some discomfort for some women, but it gets more complicated when you have endometriosis.

You see, the endometrial tissue responds to hormones released in the body regardless of where it lies. So when the uterus sheds its lining and starts to bleed, so do other areas of endometriosis. This means that your pelvis may have some blood released into it in an area that's not equipped for it. Without anywhere to go, it can create discomfort and a distended abdomen or pelvis. This will continue until the bleeding stops and the body gradually breaks down the released blood with the immune system.

Getting Help

The good news is that endometriosis treatment is possible. Treatment varies depending on how severe your case is. In many cases, simply prescribing birth control is one good option, as it typically makes a woman's cycle less painful and shorter to begin with, which impacts the endometrial tissue as well. Some women are given birth control pills all year long in order to prevent periods from triggering at all.

In other cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the excess endometrial tissue. This is usually for more extreme cases, and your doctor will likely try other methods first.

If you think you have endometriosis, or are just tired of dealing with severe period pain, consider a visit with a gynecologist. They have the best training to handle this kind of problem and can provide you with the answers and solutions you're looking for.