There are currently 830,000 endometriosis patients in Australia, with 1 in 9 women, girls and those who are gender diverse diagnosed. It takes an average of 7 years to be diagnosed.
March is Endometriosis Awareness month and we're supporting Endometriosis Australia to promote education and awareness to improve these facts.
If you are experiencing any symptoms or are concerned about endometriosis, it is important you speak to your doctor.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a progressive, chronic condition affecting approximately 1 in 9 women and those who identify as gender diverse. That’s 200 million worldwide and currently 830,000 Australia’s have endometriosis.
Endometriosis occurs when cells similar to those in the lining of the uterus - called the endometrium - grow outside this layer and in other parts of the body. These cells respond to a women's menstrual cycle in the same way as endometrial cells - by bleeding. However, with the blood having no way to escape, this is when often painful symptoms can arise.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Symptoms of endometriosis can vary from person to person. Common symptoms may include:
- Pain that stops you on or around your period
- Pain on or around ovulation
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain when you urinate
- Pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs
- Having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder or having to go frequently
- Heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding
If you are experiencing these symptoms, the next step is speaking to your doctor.
The only way endometriosis can be diagnosed is to undergo a laparoscopy and have a biopsy (tissue sample) taken.Sometimes the diagnosis is suggested without having a laparoscopy. This may be because your doctor can:
- Feel tissues in your pelvis that are affected by endometriosis
- See an endometriosis cyst affecting your ovary or other pelvic organ
- See the endometriosis if it has grown through the vagina (very occasionally)
However, the only way to be 100% certain of the diagnosis is to have a laparoscopy and/or biopsy.
What problems does endometriosis cause?
Two types of problems can occur when endometriosis is present;
- Infertility (trouble becoming pregnant).
It is possible to have endometriosis and not have either of these problems. In this case, your doctor may recommend monitoring with clinical examinations or occasionally ultrasound and other tests if they are considered appropriate.
How do you treat endometriosis?
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis but it can be managed in various ways:
- Medical treatments (medications)
- Surgical treatments (involving an operation)
- Complementary treatments (physiotherapy, psychology, complementary medicine, etc.)
There is no ‘best treatment’ for endometriosis and you should discuss your options with your doctor before starting a treatment. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of treatment and you may need to have several treatments of different types before finding the right combination for you.
A laparoscopy may sometimes be required to diagnose endometriosis. A laparoscopy is a surgical procedure performed under a general anaesthetic where a thin telescope is placed into the belly button. This allows your doctor to see inside your abdomen and assess the organs of the pelvis and abdomen for endometriosis.
Tissue that is thought to contain endometriosis is removed during the laparoscopy and sent to the pathologist to be viewed under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
Period Pain Tracker
Living with Endo Podcast
Pregnancy and Endometriosis
This information is from Endometriosis Australia. Endometriosis Australia is a nationally accredited charity that endeavours to increase recognition of endometriosis, provide endometriosis education programs, and help fund endometriosis research. Visit their website for more information.
The provided information is not a substitute for a medical opinion. It is designed as an educational reference to allow you to make more informed decisions in consultation with your doctor. To continue your education about endometriosis, book an appointment with your doctor.