(WHTM) — March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and many women who suffer from the disease may not know they have it.

For those who are unfamiliar with Endometriosis, it causes tissue similar to the lining of a woman’s uterus to grow in other places, like the abdomen and pelvic area. Endometriosis can also cause painful periods and fertility issues.

Dr. Miguel Luna Russo of the Cleveland Clinic explained how many patients who suffer from this disease suffer for a long time before they are diagnosed.

“Still in the United States the diagnostic delay for this disease is approximately seven to ten years, so patients do suffer for a very long time before they are diagnosed.”

Luna Russo stated that there are a couple of reasons why a woman may not know she has endometriosis. For one, they may think that the cramps they’re experiencing during their periods are normal.

Another factor could be that surgery may be needed in order to confirm their diagnosis.

However, according to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, that is no longer the case. Many physicians are encouraged to use clinical history, physical exams, MRI imaging, and ultrasounds to diagnose.

Luna Rosso said that there is some research being done to identify the possible biomarkers in the blood. “There’s a lot of research being performed, mostly by startups and health tech companies that are looking at non-invasive markers in the blood to kind of diagnose endometriosis. Those are actually a good idea because we can target those markers with drugs down the line in the future.”

In terms of treatment, there are multiple options available including surgery, as well as medications. Luna Rossa encourages anyone who is experiencing pain and discomfort to consult with their physician.