Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the UK; around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. It affects all women and girls of childbearing age.
It’s a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. Every month these cells build up, break down and bleed, just as the cells in the womb do. But unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape, which can lead to inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
It is a chronic, debilitating problem that causes painful or heavy periods and may lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.
Endometriosis can significantly impact a woman’s life in any or all of these ways:
• Chronic pain
• Fatigue/lack of energy
• Problems with a couple’s sex life/relationships
• An inability to conceive
• Difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments.
Many of these issues can be addressed and made more manageable with the right endometriosis treatment.
The actual cause of endometriosis is unknown and, although there are numerous theories about why it happens, none fully explains why endometriosis occurs. Symptoms vary in intensity from one patient to another but classic symptoms include:
• Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
• Pain during or after sex
• Painful bowel movements
Endometriosis can affect the bladder and the bowel in the abdomen and pelvis. It does not necessarily cause infertility but it’s often associated with fertility problems. In spite of this, natural conception is still possible, even in patients with severe endometriosis.
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, various treatments are available to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life for women living with the condition. A bespoke treatment plan is determined according to a patient’s age, the severity of the endometriosis and the severity of the symptoms. Treatments include surgery, hormone treatment and pain relief.