About 10% of all women have Endometriosis. In most cases, they’ll show no symptoms at all or overlook painful periods as a normal part of their menstrual cycle and don’t seek treatment. Those who do show symptoms usually report a deep pain in the pelvic area. In some cases, the pain is so severe that it interferes with school, work and other activities.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common condition that affects the reproductive organs, where certain types of tissue grows in places it shouldn’t. Mainly, it’s when tissue that is similar to the endometrium (which lines the inside of the uterus), also grows outside the uterus.
Most often, these growths are found in the pelvis and lower abdomen. Patients with endometriosis may have it at…
- In ovaries and fallopian tubes
- On the uterosacral ligaments
- On the walls of the pelvis, over the uterus.
- On the surface of the rectum, or, less commonly, in the large and small intestine and appendix
- In the bladder
- In the vagina
In some cases, the body reacts to the growth by forming scar tissue (called adhesions) around the affected areas. The intensity of pain with periods or intercourse does not correlate to the severity of disease. Women can have severe symptoms with minimal disease and sometimes severe disease may have little symptoms.
Roughly 40% of women with endometriosis also experience difficulty getting pregnant.
What Causes Endometriosis and Who Does it Affect?
There is no definitive cause for endometriosis with various studies proving inconclusive or failing to find a consensus. Endometriosis can occur in any reproductive female with symptoms starting in teenage years, however most commonly it’s reported in women over 30. The average gap between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis is more than 10 years.
You may be more likely to get endometriosis if you have:
- Family history.
- Retrograde menstruation – where the period blood flows backwards along the fallopian tubes into the pelvis.
- Metaplasia – the condition where normal pelvic tissue is converted into endometriosis.
- Having your first pregnancy at an older age.
- Heavy periods or extended periods lasting more than 5 days.
- First period before 11 years of age.
- Having a shorter menstrual cycle.
- Changes in the immune cells.
- Low body weight
- Alcohol use.
What Are The Symptoms?
Endometrial symptoms vary from patient to patient and it is not uncommon for affected women to have none at all. Common symptoms include:
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Painful periods
- Pain during or after sex
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
These symptoms alone or together are not confirmation of endometriosis. Keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) must be performed to receive a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis, so always seek professional medical advice from one of our female gynaecologists if any of these symptoms persist.
Treatment for Endometriosis
There are two main ways to treat endometriosis, both of which can prove effective at eliminating painful symptoms.
Treating endometriosis with hormone therapies aims to suppress the growth of endometrial cells and/or stop any bleeding. It may be used for mild endometriosis or as a combined therapy, either before or after surgery for more severe cases. Hormonal treatments include the oral contraceptive pill and progestogens.
Only a laparoscopy can diagnose endometriosis. At Northside Gynaecology we use the latest technology in scar reducing laparoscopic technology. This is achieved by using a single cut in the abdomen through which all the instruments for the operation are placed, instead of the traditional two or three cuts. Along with improved cosmetic appearance after surgery, the minimally invasive procedure also allows for reduction in pain following surgery and faster recovery time.
If you believe you might be suffering from Endometriosis, we can help you choose the best option for your condition.
Just call 1300 780 138 to book an appointment.