“Only 20% of the general public have heard of Endometriosis” – Endometriosis UK
March is endometriosis month – apologies this post should have been up last week but I just didn’t get time to pen it all down. I wanted to highlight endometriosis on my blog because even though I am not a sufferer myself, many women are and don’t actually realise what is causing their pain.
Endometriosis, is hard to diagnose. I know from my own experiences doctors thought I was a sufferer as I had many of the symptoms. I had a laparoscopy and it diagnosed otherwise. I am pretty certain this is the only way to actually diagnose it. During the laparoscopy, the doctor took a biopsy and had a proper look around.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is defined by the presence of any endometrial tissue anywhere outside the womb. What that means is when the tissue that lines to womb is found growing on say kidneys, bladder etc. This then causes extreme pain as it triggers reactions in the body. This tissue often creates adhesions which are extremely painful and this usually happens when scar tissue starts to join together.
The endometrial tissue, even though attached outside the womb still acts as if it were inside. It thickens up as if it were to be fertilized and sheds monthly. The issue with this is this lining once shed actually has no where to go which results in the excruciating pain endometriosis suffers go through.
When/if diagnosed it is usually scaled to determine the level you are at. Classified in four stages ranging from 1 – Minimal to 4 – Severe.
1- Minimal: Few endometrial implants outside uterus. Adhesions may or not be present.
2- Mild: More implants than mild and usually deeper. Adhesions are present at this stage.
3- Moderate: Many deep implants, ‘chocolate cysts'( cysts filled with old blood) are usually present, adhesions and possible scarring.
4- Severe: Deep implants, ‘chocolate cysts’ that are on ovaries, multiple deep adhesions are now attached to organs and scarring.
7.5 is the average length of time it takes to be diagnosed in the UK – Trust your body and get checked. Don’t be be part of the 33% of women who were told these symptoms were “only in their head. “
What are the symptoms?
This in my opinion, is the biggest reason so many women don’t realise they are a sufferer. The symptoms are so similar to so many other conditions relating to the female reproductive system. Heavy periods, painful sex, bleeding after sex, back pain, lower tummy pain, bleeding in between periods, fatigue, depression. All sound like they could be a regular normal thing don’t they? And I guess for many of us it is however if it continues, it isn’t and it is worth mentioning these symptoms to your GP. Other symptoms include rectal bleeding, coughing up blood (if lining is present in lung), bowels getting blocked (if lining is present in intestine) and often pain at tops of the legs and hips. So varied. Some of these are simple PMS and regular period pains. But you know your body – don’t suffer in silence.
What causes Endometriosis?
Unknown. Though new research shows it might possibly be hereditary. Other theories suggest it can be caused by immunity dysfunction. And more theories suggest the body produces to much estrogen. I personally feel it’s down to hormones. If in doubt, blame those. They cause enough problems.
Treatment usually depends on what level you are diagnosed at. Lower levels can be helped with pain relief such as ibuprofen and NSAIDS( non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and hormone control eg. contraceptive pill/ hormone suppressants. A lot factors come into play – age, if you are trying to conceive, how much pain you are in and how you feel about surgery. If trying to conceive or in a lot pain surgery to remove adhesions can help . However, there is no guarantee removal will prevent return. Hysterectomy that includes removal of both ovaries is sometimes used as a very last method however that is quite rare.
If you feel this is affecting you – Please don’t suffer in silence. No one knows your body better than you. If your GP or health visitor tries to push you off – fight your case!
Please be aware I am not a GP – seek professional help if you feel you are affected by endometriosis.