Ladies, we want you to know that when it comes to discussing women’s health, no topic is off limits. Your health and wellbeing is and always will be a priority to us, which is why we want to ensure we’re doing all we can to help you take care of number one.
In aid of Endometriosis Awareness Month, we’re discussing all there is to know about endometriosis, including what it is and how it can be treated, so you can take the necessary steps to protect you. So, if you’re experiencing pain in your lower tummy or you suffer from heavy periods, we’re here for you.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is a condition which can affect women from puberty to the menopause. It causes the cells similar to those found in the lining of the womb to grow elsewhere in the body, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Every month these cells react in the same way as those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and passing as a period. However, unlike the cells in the womb, this blood has no way to escape. This can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
According to Endometriosis UK, there are currently 1.5 million women in the UK living with endometriosis. With the right support and by identifying symptoms early on, endometriosis can be managed.
The symptoms of endometriosis can vary, so if you have endometriosis and your symptoms are different to someone else’s, this is perfectly normal. While some women are badly affected, others experience very mild symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Period pain that prevents you doing your day-to-day activities.
- Heavy periods.
- Pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain), which is usually worse during your menstrual cycle.
- Pain during or after sex.
- Pain when you go to the toilet.
- Feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea or blood in your urine during your period.
- Difficulty conceiving.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s vital that you seek support from your doctor as soon as possible. For some women, endometriosis can impact their life beyond the symptoms and can lead to feelings of depression.
It’s important to remember period pain is common even if you don’t have endometriosis. However, if this pain interferes with your everyday life, we recommend consulting your GP.
Truth be told, girls, the actual cause of endometriosis is still unknown. However, researchers have shared several theories about the cause, although none provide an exact explanation of why endometriosis occurs. These include, but are not limited to:
Genetic predisposition: Some research suggests endometriosis can be passed down through genes.
Immune dysfunction: In some cases, it is believed the body is unable to fight off endometriosis. Many women with the condition typically have a reduced immunity to other conditions.
Environmental factors: It is thought certain toxins in our environment, such as dioxin, can affect the body, immune system and reproductive system, resulting in endometriosis.
Because endometriosis symptoms can vary and they are often similar to those of other conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose. This is why it is important to keep a record of your symptoms, so your GP can gather as much detail as possible.
If your doctor believes you have endometriosis, they may recommend treatments. However, if these do not help they will likely refer you to a specialist for further tests, such as a laparoscopy, which is the only definitive way to diagnose the condition.
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis, but there are several treatments available to help reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with the condition. Remember, girls, you are strong, you are powerful and you are always in control.
The type of treatment you receive will depend on factors, including your age and the severity of your symptoms. Treatments include:
Pain relief, including over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, and physiotherapy.
- Hormone treatments, including contraceptives and medicines called gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues.
- Surgery, this is recommended in more severe cases and includes cutting away patches of endometriosis tissue.
With endometriosis currently affecting approximately 10% of women of the reproductive age worldwide, it’s important to spot the signs as early as possible, so you can get the right support for you. Besides, nobody knows your body better than you do.
As always, girls, you’re not alone. UK-based charity, Endometriosis UK provides support to women with endometriosis to help them take back control of their life. From their very own helpline to online support groups, the charity exists to improve the lives of those living with endometriosis. And of course, we’re always here for you too, no matter what.
Don’t put your health on hold, take charge of your wellbeing today!