Endometriosis. We’ve all heard of it. But what is it?
Endometriosis, or “endo”, is a condition that affects a woman during their reproductive years. Basically, endometriosis when the lining of the uterus, or the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus into other areas of the body, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes or even the bladder/bowel.
Endometriosis affects approximately 1 in 10 women, making it a fairly common disease, so you’d think that diagnosis would be a fairly straight-forward process, right? Wrong. On average, it takes 7+ years to diagnose due to the normalisation of symptoms, lack of knowledge of the disease, and invasive diagnosis techniques.
How it endometriosis diagnosed?
The only way to diagnose endometriosis is through a laparoscopy – an invasive surgical procedure that is performed under a general anaesthetic – although an endometriosis diagnosis may be suggested without surgery, with the presence of an endometrioma – a type of cyst affecting the ovary – or if your doctor can feel tissues in your pelvis that may be affected.
What do I look out for?
Living with endometriosis can have lasting impacts on all aspects of a woman’s life and can even cause infertility if left untreated – so it is important to get to know your body and to look out for any symptoms that may be associated with endometriosis.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, be sure to visit your GP.
- Intense and sometimes debilitating pain during our around your period
- Pain on or around ovulation
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain when you urinate
- Pain in your pelvic region, back or legs
- Having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder, or having to go frequently
- Heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding
The cause of endometriosis is still unknown, and although there are treatments available there is no known cure.
For more information on endometriosis and how you can help, visit Endometriosis Australia.