One in ten women suffer from endometriosis. This makes it as common as diabetes. Yet many people have never heard of it! Do you know what it is or what the symptoms are? I didn’t, I didn’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone know what it was! When I was diagnosed I went on a google mission to understand it.
What is it?
Pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis, it is essentially a condition that occurs when the lining of womb starts to grow in places that it shouldn’t! At times it can cause extreme pain because this tissue growing outside the womb continues to act as if it would during your period. Every month this tissue grows, shreds and bleeds. Only this blood can’t leave the body! Instead it stays inside, causing inflammation, pain and the build up of scar tissue.
Who does it affect?
It affects girls and women of reproductive age. In my case, I definitely had symptoms from the age of 13.
What are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?
Below is a short but not exhaustive list of the most common symptoms. Personally I have experienced them all, but it is important to note that evidence shows that it can affect everyone differently. Some people can have lots of endometriosis and have no symptoms, others can have a small amount and have severe pain.
- Abdominal pain
- Back and leg pain
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful sex
- Constant fatigue
- Bladder & bowel problems
- Depression or low mood
- Heavy and painful periods
- Fertility problems
It can only truly be diagnosed with a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy. Basically a tiny camera is put into your stomach through a small incision in your belly button. This allows the doctor to take a look and visually confirm the presence of endometriosis tissue.
Can it be treated?
Unfortunately there is no magical cure yet. There are a number of treatment options depending on the individual (surgery to remove the tissue and hormone treatment being the most common). I’ve had 9 surgeries and tried multiple oral and implant hormone treatments. All of which provided relief for a short period of time, but it always came back!
Support me in raising awareness
Endometriosis is often difficult for people to talk about, mostly because it relates to female sexual organs! I believe this is a big part of the reason why people are not aware of it. This leads to young girls and women going undiagnosed for an average of 7 years. I challenge you to support raise awareness by sharing this blog with at least 5 important women in your life.
For detailed information visit www.endometriosis-uk.org
- Kennedy S, et al. ESHRE guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. Human Reprod 2005;20(10):2698-2704.