Terms Explained: endometriosis and endometritis

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. But a slip of the finger while googling “what is endometriosis” can give you some confusing results. Here’s a quick explanation of endometriosis and endometritis.

Endometriosis is a disease in which endometrium (the lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus. The extrauterine endometrium (the tissue that is outside the uterus that should be inside the uterus) still reacts to the decrease in hormones females experience just before a period. That endometrium still gets inflamed and/or bleeds like the intrauterine endometrium does, but the blood is trapped inside the body and irritates surrounding tissues. So if you or a loved one experiences a lot of pelvic pain just before and during a period, talk to your family doctor or OBGYN about checking into endometriosis as a cause.

Endometriosis is pretty common, though not very well known. Up to 10% of women will or have had it, and up to 40% of women experiencing infertility have it (source). For more information about endometriosis, check out this helpful resource center.

Endometritis, on the other hand, is an inflammation of the endometrium that usually occurs after someone’s water breaks during childbirth; in fact, endometritis is the single most common postpartum infection. After a person’s water breaks, bacteria can get into the uterus and cause this inflammation. The first major symptom people usually exhibit is a fever, which is why obstetricians and midwives often monitor temperatures after birth.

Endometritis can also result from a sexually transmitted disease or after a procedure. For more information about non-postpartum endometritis, check out this resource and its bibliography.

If you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis or of endometritis, contact your doctor. If you want support in figuring out how to have that conversation with your doctor or in finding a doctor to talk with, reach out to me or to another doula.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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