Endometriosis is more common than most people think, but the awareness to recognise and treat it is still poor.
Endometriosis is an extremely painful condition in women (including young women aged 17 and under) presenting with one or more of the following symptoms or signs:
Incredibly, recent research has shown that women with endometriosis are losing £41,000 in earnings while waiting an average seven-and-a-half years for a diagnosis.
About one in ten women have endometriosis. For them cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. Each month, these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. Endometriosis may lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems. Endometriosis can also have a huge impact on women’s quality of life, work and relationships.
On average it takes 7.5 years from onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis. It’s important to share your symptoms with your GP. You will probably be given 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.
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, your doctor or specialist should discuss possible endometriosis treatment options with you.
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis. The different treatments available for endometriosis aim to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life for a woman living with the condition.
Several theories have been suggested, including:
However, none of these theories fully explain why endometriosis occurs. It's likely the condition is caused by a combination of different factors.