Endometriosis awareness week is this week, 3rd-11th march.
I wanted to focus on this disease this week as it causes so many women so much pain, and its often overlooked because it’s hard to get a diagnosis and a lot of the time women think that what they are experiencing must be normal. But 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer with Endometriosis.
The actress Lena Dunham has put endometriosis in the press recently as she featured in the March issue of Vogue talking about her decision to have a full hysterectomy at the age of 31 to end her years of chronic pain.
What is endometriosis?
Essentially, it’s when cells like the ones in uterus are found outside of the uterus in other parts of the body, such as the bowel, bladder, ovaries which results in cysts, and even up into the chest for some women. Just as the cells change in the uterus as part of a woman’s monthly cycle, the same thing happens with the cells that are living else-where, so each month they build up, break down and bleed, but the blood has no where to go. This then causes pain, inflammation, and adhesions that build up in the body. It can be incredibly debilitating, and extremely painful.
Often resulting in heavy, painful periods. It can leave women feeling bloated, with fatigue and can have a huge effect on a woman’s fertility, as many as 30-50% of women diagnosed with endometriosis suffer with fertility issues.
The only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is by a laparoscopy, an operation in which a camera (a laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near the navel. The surgeon uses the camera to see the pelvic organs and look for any signs of endometriosis. If endometriosis is diagnosed, the endometriosis may be treated or removed for further examination during the laparoscopy.
Scans, blood tests and internal examinations are not a conclusive way to diagnose endometriosis and a normal scan, blood test and internal examination does not mean that you do not have endometriosis, it often doesn’t show up in ultrasounds.
Now, there is no cure for endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery to laser away adhesions may be carried out, but it’s not a permanent fix as the cells can grow back. Hormonal treatment such as the pill may be given to stop your monthly cycle, and pain management is pretty much all the can be done.
Endometriosis-uk have lots of information on their website with further reading or what to do if you suspect you may be suffering.