Endometriosis can cause painful periods, persistent pain in the pelvic area, infertility, and other symptoms. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Treatment options include painkillers, hormone treatments, and surgery.
What is endometriosis?
The endometrium is the tissue that lines the inside of the womb (uterus). Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus. It is trapped in the pelvic area and lower tummy (abdomen) and, rarely, in other areas in the body.ted.
Who gets endometriosis?
The exact number of women who develop endometriosis is not known. This is because many women have endometriosis without symptoms, or with mild symptoms, and are never diagnosed.
Investigations to diagnose endometriosis are only done if symptoms become troublesome and are not eased by initial treatments (see below). Estimates vary so that from about 1 in 10 to as many as 5 in 10 of all women develop some degree of endometriosis.
If symptoms develop they typically begin between the ages of 25-40. Sometimes symptoms begin in the teenage years. Endometriosis can affect any woman. However:
Sometimes it runs in families. Therefore, endometriosis is more common in close blood relatives of affected women.
Endometriosis is rare in women past the menopause, as to develop endometriosis you need oestrogen, the female hormone. Oestrogen levels fall after the menopause.
The combined oral contraceptive pill (often called the pill) reduces the risk of developing endometriosis. This protective effect may persist for up to a year after stopping the pill.
What causes endometriosis?
There have been several theories over the years. One theory was that some cells from the womb (uterus) lining (the endometrium) get outside the uterus into the pelvic area. They get there by spilling backwards along the Fallopian tubes when you have a period.
Currently, we do not know what causes endometriosis. Most experts agree that there are many responsible factors, possibly including genetic, immunological, and hormonal reasons.
Patches of endometriosis tend to stick and may join organs to each other. The medical term for this is adhesions. For example, the bladder or bowel may stick to the uterus. Large patches of endometriosis may form into cysts which bleed each month when you have a period. The cysts can fill with dark blood; this is known as chocolate cysts.
"I am 29 and have been suffering with period pains for a long time. I just thought it was normal but then spoke to my family and friends and realise my pains were a lot more painful. The pain gradually gets worse and I was now feeling this pain for almost the whole month. I also get pain during intercourse. I went to see my GP and was told that I will benefit seeing a endometriosis specialist therefore booked an appointment to see Mr Raza.
At the appointment, Mr Raza went through my history over the last few years. He carried out a thorough assessment including pelvic examination and transvaginal ultrasound scan. The scan showed a 4cm ovarian cyst on the left ovary and suggested that I may have endometriosis. He explained in detail all the available options to me and went through the pros and cons of each option.
I agreed to go ahead with the surgical option and called his secretary. She booked me for the procedure the next week.
Everything was explained to me in details and instructions were emailed to me about the preparation for the operation.
Mr Raza called me the day before to reassure me and also explain everything to me again which I thought was a very caring touch.
I had the operation in Lister hospital and complete endometriosis was removed along with the cyst. It was a keyhole surgery so I was discharged home on the same day. My recovery was quick though had pain for the first few days, which was easily controlled with the pain medication.
I recently came for a follow-up, which Mr Raza carried out another scan. Since the operation, I already feel a huge difference. My periods are less painful and less heavy.
I felt I was in complete good hands with Mr Raza. He is extremely experienced and I can tell he has a passion for this. Mr Raza was calm at all times and had a very practical approach. I have now moved on with my work and hoping its all behind me."