From a young age, I knew my periods weren’t ‘normal’. They were really heavy and excruciatingly painful. I tried talking to my doctor about it; endometriosis was briefly mentioned. She recommended I have a baby to solve the problem (I was fifteen). Then she sent me on my way with some Ibuprofen painkillers. What is Endometriosis? I was clueless and still struggling each month. I wasn’t diagnosed with the condition until several years later!
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful, chronic and often debilitating condition that affects 1 in 10 women in the UK. That number is probably much higher because it can take up to eight years (sometimes more) for a diagnosis.
In endometriosis, cells like the ones in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body. These cells react to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleed.
However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body. This can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
(Source – https://www.endometriosis-uk.org)
Endometriosis is mostly found in the pelvic area and may affect:
- Fallopian tubes
- Scars from operations
- The lining of the pelvic cavity
- Pouch of Douglas
However, it can sometimes it can be found outside of the pelvic region in places such as:
- C-Section Scar
- Sciatic Nerve
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with Endometriosis can be quite vast. They include:
- Pelvic pain – which is usually worse before and during the period
- Severe period pains
- Pain during or after sex
- Painful bowel movements
- Heavy periods – to the point where you often leak through your pads or tampons
- Lack of energy
- Fertility problems
Treatment for Endometriosis
The treatment of Endometriosis varies from woman to woman. It depends on the severity of their condition and what their personal circumstances are, for example, the age of the woman and if she wants to have children. Treatment might not always be necessary.
The aim of the treatment is to reduce the severity of symptoms, slow the growth of any endometriosis tissue, improve fertility, and improve the quality of life
Treatment options include:
- Surgery – to remove the patches of Endometriosis, or hysterectomy in severe cases
- Hormone medicines and contraceptives – the combined pill, intrauterine system (IUS), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues, Mirena Coil
- Pain relief – for example ibuprofen and paracetamol
It is important to thoroughly discuss each option with your GP or gynaecologist.
Complications of Endometriosis
Infertility is one of the main complications of Endometriosis; it can damage the ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
Some women won’t have any trouble conceiving, but unfortunately, some will. Surgery to remove the endometriosis may improve a woman’s chances of conceiving, though it isn’t guaranteed.
Endometriosis can cause adhesions, which results in organs sticking together.
Endometriosis can cause cysts to grow on the ovaries. The cysts are filled with fluid and can be quite painful. These can be removed with surgery but may return.
The bladder and bowel can be affected by Endometriosis. The effects could be pain during the period, or in severe cases, require major surgery.
Living with Endometriosis
The pain associated with Endometriosis typically starts a few days before the start of a period.
Every woman experiences Endometriosis differently. Some may have patches that are widespread and severe, but they don’t really have much pain. Whereas other women may only have a few patches but experience severe pain.
For many women, Endometriosis can be a life-limiting and debilitating condition. This can make going to work, socialising with friends, and getting through each day really difficult.
As well as the physical symptoms Endometriosis causes, many woman experience anxiety and depression because of the effects the condition has on their lives.
If you think you have symptoms of endometriosis, it’s important that you speak to your doctor.
Looking for more information about Endometriosis?
I really hope the post ‘What is Endometriosis?’ cleared up the basics of the condition for you. If you would like more information about Endometriosis, I would recommend looking at these websites:
Do you have Endometriosis or suspect you may have it? Or would you just like to chat about it? I would love to hear your story. Please get in touch by leaving a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.