You’re busy celebrating Women’s History Month, the Ides of March, Pi(e) Day, St. Patrick’s Day, not to mention Spring Break and numerous lesser known awareness days and months. But don’t let Endometriosis Awareness Month slip away.

Endometriosis — when the uterine lining or endometrium grows outside of the uterus,  most commonly elsewhere in the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and ligaments that support the uterus; the area between the vagina and rectum; the outer surface of the uterus; and the lining of the pelvic cavity — affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S., 1 million in Canada, and millions more worldwide, according to the Endometriosis Association. It frequently results in very painful menstrual cramps and other symptoms, and is notoriously hard to diagnose. There is no known cause, and while there are many treatments, there is no real cure.

Adapted from a photo by Ben Werdmuller // Creative Commons 2.0

So what can you do this month? Just talking about endometriosis — acknowledging it exists or sharing your own story might help a teenage girl realize that those gut-stabbing cramps aren’t normal or another woman to know that it’s not all in her head.

If you have endometriosis and have found a physician or other health care practitioner who is compassionate and has helped you find ways of coping, tell others — refer your friends. Many doctors don’t know that endometriosis often presents as, or with, gastrointestinal symptoms.

Does your local library have up-to-date books about endometriosis? Recommend materials that have helped you.

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