Every March Endometriosis Awareness Month takes place across the world, with the aim of increasing awareness and highlighting the symptoms of this debilitating condition that affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide.
Endometriosis can have a devastating effect on the quality of life of sufferers of this condition due to the painful symptoms that the disease carries and the fact that it is the biggest cause of infertility in women. Although this is a condition that affects 1 in 10 women, the average diagnosis can take up to 7 and a half years, and with this unacceptably long diagnosis time, the focus of this initiative is to raise awareness of the symptoms of Endometriosis with the goal being more women receiving diagnosis and treatment earlier.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is present when the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) occurs outside this layer and causes pain and/or infertility. The lining layer is called the endometrium, and this is the layer of tissue that is shed each month with menstruation (period) or where a pregnancy settles and grows.
This layer consists of two sublayers:
- base layer that is always present, this is where the new tissue regenerates following a period;
- surface layer that is shed with each period.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- 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
Two types of problems can occur when endometriosis is present. These are:
2. Infertility (trouble becoming pregnant).
WHAT CAUSES IT?
The answer is not clear. It is likely that there is no one cause, but several factors that may include genetics (i.e. inherited from either mother or father), environmental effects (chemicals, toxins, or viruses), the type of endometrium that you have and the flow of blood and the endometrium during a period.
WHAT IS THE BEST TREATMENT FOR ENDOMETRIOSIS?
There is no ‘best treatment’, since treatments will work differently for individual women with endometriosis. You should be aware of the different kinds of treatments, and their possible effects and side effects or complications. A combination of treatments can be used to assist relieve the symptoms associated with endometriosis.
It is important that you see your doctor so that they can work out the best plan of attack for you and your needs.
If you have any concerns or are worried that you may have endometriosis, please contact our Providence Medical team today.