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Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis awareness month, aiming to shed light on the long-term symptoms it causes. 

It’s likely you have never heard of Endometriosis, yet it is a condition that affects around 176 million women worldwide. March is Endometriosis awareness month, aiming to shed light on the long-term symptoms it causes. 

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, starts to grow in other places of the body. These growths are called endometrial implants. Typically found growing in the pelvis or abdomen, they can also grow on linings and organs, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries.  

Endometrial implants can be severely painful, especially during ovulation, menstruation and sex. This disorder can affect women of any age and is a long-term condition that can have significant impact on their lives leading to feelings of depression and, without treatment, can even lead to chronic pain. 

Other symptoms of endometriosis include: 

  • Intestinal pain 
  • Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods. In rare cases, you may also find blood in your stool or urine. 
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods.  
  • Infertilityor not being able to get pregnant. 
  • Stomach (digestive) problems. These include diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods. 

 

If untreated the growths may also continue to expand and cause problems, such as: 

  • Blocking your fallopian tubes when growths cover or grow into your ovaries. Trapped blood in the ovaries can form cysts. 
  • Inflammation (swelling) 
  • Forming scar tissue and adhesions (type of tissue that can bind your organs together).  

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary depending on the person. Some women may be affected badly, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms.  

Even though there is no cure for the disorder, with the advancement of medicine, science and technology there are now exams and test to detect and treatments to help ease the symptoms 

Tests to check for physical clues of endometriosis include: 

  • Pelvic exam. During the exam your doctor palpates manually areas in your pelvis for abnormalities. Often small areas of endometriosis are harder to detect unless they have caused a cyst to form. 
  • Ultrasound. Both abdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds are used to get the best view of the reproductive organs, however, a standard ultrasound imaging test cannot accurately detect whether you have endometriosis, but it can identify cysts associated with endometriosis (endometriomas). 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI is typically used for surgical planning, giving your surgeon detailed information about the location and size of endometrial implants. 
  • Laparoscopy. This procedure allows your surgeon to view inside your abdomen. While under general anesthesia, your surgeon makes a tiny incision near your navel and inserts a laparoscope, looking for signs of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. A laparoscopy can provide more precise information about the location, extent and size of the endometrial implants. With this procedure your surgeon is also able to a biopsy for further testing.  

Often, with proper surgical planning, your surgeon can fully treat endometriosis during the laparoscopy so that you need only one surgery. 

Treatments for endometriosis include: 

  • Painkillers – such as ibuprofen and paracetamol 
  • Hormone medicines and contraceptives – including the combined pill, the contraceptive patch, an intrauterine system (IUS) 
  • Surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue 
  • Removal Operation to remove part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis – such as surgery to remove the womb hysterectomy. 

Every woman should discuss all their options after diagnosis with their doctor to ensure they are receiving the right treatment. Sometimes they may suggest not starting treatment immediately to see if the symptoms improve on their own. 

 

Endometriosis can be a difficult condition to deal both physically and emotionally. As well as support from doctors, family and friendswomen suffering through this condition may also find it helpful to contact a support group, such as Endometriosis UK, for information and advice. 

We need to be aware that this is happening to women everywhere, our mothers, sisters, friends, partners, even ourselves; therefore, we need to make a concerted effort to push the women in our lives to take these tests and ensure good uterine and physical health.

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