Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Endometriosis is a chronic disease found in at least ten percent of women worldwide-perhaps as many as 89 million women-making it more common than AIDS and cancer. While it was recognized as a disease as early as 1690, for years women have been battling doctors who insisted that there was nothing wrong, that monthly pain was normal, or that childbirth would solve the problem. Although endometriosis is finally becoming better understood, research still has not yielded a cure or even a reliable treatment. I have lived with the monthly pain of endometriosis since I first began menstruating at the age of twelve. It was a full nine years later that the official diagnosis confirmed by own unofficial one: I had endometriosis. This was not unexpected, as my mother, my aunt, and my sister also had the disease. The diagnosis, however, also placed me within a larger community of women connected by this odd "wandering womb" disease-a disease in which the lining of the uterus grows in places where it shouldn't, causing such problems as severe monthly pain, pain during sex, infertility, and a host of immune-related diseases. This book examines the proposed causes of endometriosis, how it has been perceived and treated historically, problems with diagnosis, and its connection to infertility. The book examines studies specifically addressing the role of genetics in endometriosis, as well as the emerging evidence that endometriosis is closely tied to the immune system. The book chronicles my own experience with endometriosis in the larger context of the history, pathology, and etiology of the disease. It is a memoir, but also features a significant amount of scientific information, written for the layperson. Its ultimate message is one of admiration for both the disease and the women who have it, and of hope for an eventual cure.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Megan Marie Griffiths



OCLC Number


File Format


File Size

66 pages