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A comprehensive overview of a health problem that's rapidly gaining popularity as a diagnosis in this country. Endometriosis is the condition that results when endometrial tissue, usually expelled from a woman's body during menstruation, instead travels outside the uterus and sticks elsewhere in the body. (Usually this occurs on or near the reproductive system, but patches of endometrial tissue have been found as far away as the elbow.) Since the tissue continues to act as if it were in the uterus--thickening, enlarging, bleeding, and shrinking on a monthly cycle--the symptoms of endometriosis can include pain, swelling, and bleeding from almost any site in the body. Older, a poet and cookbook author, traces her interest in the condition to its prevalence in her family (her mother in particular suffered from it, though she herself has escaped the problem); her chief argument is that endometriosis is vastly under--and mis-diagnosed. Here, she describes the normal function of the female reproductive tract; presents the going theories on the cause of endometriosis (from immunologic, to a ""benign cancer"" transformation); and describes its symptoms (in serious cases, infertility). She then covers diagnosis (laproscopy is the most definitive), treatment (hormones, surgery, or radiation), complications (from cancer to ""Endometriosis of the Navel and Other Strange Sites""), special population-groups (career women, the young, the old), and prevention (little is known). Overall, Older has done a careful job of gathering the scant information available--but in strongly arguing for endometriosis as the underdiagnosed cause of many female ills (tying in with women's medical rights arguments), she is pushing in the opposite direction of catchall overdiagnosis. Most helpful as a supportive guide for those with endometriosis firmly diagnosed.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Scribners