Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb (uterus) is found elsewhere in the body, most commonly in your ovaries or pelvis.
What is endometriosis?
The name ‘endometriosis’ comes from ‘endometrium’, the name for the tissue that lines your uterus.
The tissue that grows outside of your uterus, breaks down and bleeds just like the tissue in your womb – however, unlike the tissue in your womb, there is nowhere for the blood to escape to. This is what causes the inflammation, pain and build-up of scar tissue associated with endometriosis.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from woman to woman – some might experience no symptoms or only mild symptoms, while others have much more severe symptoms.
The most common symptoms include:
- Painful periods
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain passing urine
- Difficulty in becoming pregnant
What causes endometriosis?
There is no clear cause of endometriosis, but some potential causes and risk factors include:
- Retrograde menstrual flow – this is where menstrual blood doesn’t flow out of the body as it should but instead flows backwards down the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity
- Lymphatic or vascular spread – this is where endometrial cells are carried to different parts of the body via lymphatic drainage or blood vessels.
- Metaplasia – This is a term used to describe a process during which cells in the body may change into endometrial cells.
- Your genes – endometriosis often runs in families
- Following surgery – endometrial tissue may attach to an incision following surgery such as a caesarean section.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms as well as where and when you feel pain.
To help make a diagnosis, you may be given a pelvic examination, ultrasound, MRI and, in some cases, may refer you to a surgeon for a laparoscopy.
How is endometriosis treated?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for endometriosis but there are some treatments that may help. Your doctor may recommend some (or all) of the following:
- over-the-counter medications – such as ibuprofen or naproxen – to reduce your pain
- the pill, contraceptive injection, implant or progesterone pill to stop endometriosis tissue from spreading.
In cases where medication does not help or in relation to fertility issues, you may need surgery and your doctor can advise you on the surgery that’s right for you.
If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.