Endometriosis Awareness Month

3/31/2014

More than 5 million women are affected by endometriosis in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  This illness is one of the most common health problems for women, and yet many women are not aware that they suffer from it.  This Endometriosis Awareness Month, TRICARE beneficiaries can learn more about the disease and take steps to find out if they are one of the millions of women living with this illness.

Endometriosis generally occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb grows in other parts of the body.  Once outside of the uterus, the endometrial tissue continues to grow and bleed during menstruation.  Over time, the growths become larger and bleed more, causing pain and other symptoms. The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back during menstrual periods. Other symptoms include painful cramps or periods, intestinal pain, pain during or after sex and infertility.

It is unclear what causes this endometriosis, but it can occur at any time in women who menstruate. The following factors have been associated with endometriosis which most frequently occurs in women in their 30’s and 40s.

  • Having a mother or sister with endometriosis
  • Starting  menstruation at a young age
  • Having frequent periods lasting more than seven days 
  • Having a mother or sister with endometriosis
  • Having a closed hymen

TRICARE covers the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests three common methods for detecting endometriosis: a pelvic exam, ultrasound or laparoscopy. Treatments can be administered medically or surgically. Oral contraceptives, which TRICARE covers, can help to make menstrual periods regular, lighter and shorter, or can stop the menstrual cycle for several months. If symptoms persist, laparoscopic surgery may be an option to remove tissue growth.

Women should talk with their primary care manager if they have questions about endometriosis, are experiencing symptoms, or if symptoms return after treatment.

To learn more about endometriosis, visit www.womenshealth.gov.  For more information on TRICARE coverage visit: www.tricare.mil/coveredservices.

Last Updated 9/22/2014