In endometriosis, tissue that's supposed to grow inside the uterus instead begins to grow outside the uterus -- on the fallopian tubes, ovaries or elsewhere in the body, usually in the pelvic region but not always. And that tissue reacts as it ordinarily would to the body's hormonal changes -- thickening, then breaking down and bleeding, often worsening and causing scarring over time. You don't have to be familiar with the condition to see how this might cause pain.
Now researchers have found that, yes, such pain can lead to a loss of productivity at work.
"Duh," you might well, and justifiably, think if you're one of the estimated 5 million women in the U.S. who have the condition. (That number and other endometriosis facts can be found at womenshealth.gov.) But bear with us -- because the researchers also quantified that dent in productivity.
In what's touted as the first worldwide study of the condition's impact on society, researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom found that, among employed women, those with pelvic pain related to endometriosis reported 10 hours of lost work productivity per week, compared to seven hours for those with pelvic pain not traceable to endometriosis.
The endometriosis-and-productivity findings were announced Monday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Here are other details on the endometriosis study, funded by the World Endometriosis Foundation.
Considering that the condition is still something of a mystery, that it's a leading cause of infertility and that women in the study, after reporting their first symptoms, went an average of seven years before being diagnosed ... well, beginning to quantify the effects -- obvious though they may seem at first glance -- can only be for the good.
Here's more basic endometriosis information, in the form of a pamphlet, from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
And in other recent news from the meeting:
Plus, more fertility research reported there.
-- Tami Dennis
Photo: Aleve and other over-the-counter pain medications are on often recommended to relieve the pain of endometriosis. For many women, they don't help.
Credit: Getty Images