Most women are aware of endometriosis, but don’t necessarily know how it will affect them and what risks they may face.
What do we know about endometriosis?
Close to a million Australian women are living with endometriosis. The number could be even higher, as it normally takes about 6 and a half years to diagnose the condition.
Symptoms of endometriosis include bleeding between periods, pain during sex or when going to the bathroom, bloating, nausea, constipation and diarrhea. But the most common symptom is pain, and no one should have to live with pain.
So what exactly is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic condition where the cells that line the uterus are found in other parts of the body.
During your menstrual cycle, these cells operate as normal. They thicken, break down, and leave the body as menstrual fluid. The problem is that there’s nowhere for them to go; they stay trapped in the body, causing irritation and scarring. These scars can form thick bands of tissue called adhesions that bind your organs and body tissue together.
Who is at greatest risk of getting endometriosis?
- Women in their 30s or 40s
- Women who don’t have children
- Women with a short menstrual cycle (less than 27 days)
- Women with a family history of endometriosis
- Women who started their menstrual cycle early
- Women that are underweight
- Women with a health condition that stops the normal period flow
What can I do to manage my endometriosis?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that debilitating pelvic, abdominal and period pains are not normal, no matter what you’ve been told. They’re symptoms of something more serious.
See your GP, listen and read endo testimonials, and get a second opinion if needed. If you think you might have endometriosis, Don’t give up on getting a diagnosis.
Some tips on endo management:
- Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle
- Get enough sleep
- Manage your stress
- Manage pain using medication
- Using the Pill might help manage pain
- Surgery to remove cysts, nodules and adhesions is available, and new methods can leave only one small scar.
- In extreme cases, a hysterectomy may be advised
I’ve been diagnosed. Now what?
The most important thing to know is that you are not alone. Speak to others who have taken the endo journey, and know that there are treatments available. You don’t have to go it alone.
Take these tips from others living with endometriosis:
- Pain can be incapacitating
- Symptoms aren’t just tied to periods
- Getting a diagnosis can be frustrating
- Treatment can be hit and miss
- Finding good care is hard
If you have severe pelvic, abdominal, or period pain, talk to your GP about endometriosis and request a referral to Northside Gynaecology.