Endometriosis: How do I know if I have endometriosis? How do you cure it?
Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition characterised by painful or heavy periods, and much more. The condition may also lead to infertility, fatigue, and bowel and bladder problems. How do you cure it? Express.co.uk spoke to Dr Shree Datta, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at eco femcare brand Callaly to find out about the condition.
What is endometriosis?
Approximately 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with endometriosis.
Every month a woman’s body releases hormones which cause the lining of the womb to increase in preparation for a fertilised egg.
If pregnancy doesn’t occur, this lining will break down and bleed and is released from the body as a period.
Dr Datta explained in Endometriosis, tissue which is usually found in the lining of the womb develops in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Theses cells react to the menstrual cycle every month and also bleed, but this blood cannot leave the body.
This causes inflammation, pain, and scar tissue.
Dr Datta said: “It’s one of the most common conditions I see in my clinic.
“It’s usually seen in women in their twenties and thirties and is a long-term condition that can significantly impact your day-to-day activities.”
Despite this, endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity.
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What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
According to Dr Datta, the symptoms can vary and include:
- Painful or heavy periods
- Pain during intercourse,
- weeing or emptying your bowels
- Change in bowel habit
- Problems with fertility
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Cysts in the ovaries
Endometriosis suffers may have painful periods or pain during intercourse, seeing or emptying their bowels around the time of their periods.
Dr Datta said this is because endometriosis develops with the hormonal changes of your cycle as your body prepares for a period.
Often, women say they feel bloated and sick during their period with a change in bowel habit.
Dr Datta explained: “This can be due to deposits of endometriosis in the pelvis, around the womb.
“In some cases, periods may be heavy and fertility can be affected over the longer term if untreated, so it’s good to get checked over early.
“Some women develop chronic pelvic pain, which no longer just occurs around the time of their period.”
Endometriosis can also develop in the ovaries, as cysts often called “chocolate cysts”.
She said: “These can build up and grow over time as the endometriosis deposits develop over time.”
Endometriosis UK touches on the more personal side effects of the condition.
The organisation’s website lists the following impacts of endometriosis:
• Chronic pain
• Fatigue/lack of energy
• Problems with a couple’s sex life/relationships
• An inability to conceive
• Difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments
If you are experiencing these issues and suspect you have endometriosis, you should see a medical professional such as your GP.
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How do I know if I have endometriosis?
If these symptoms sound familiar, it’s time to take action to find out if you really have endometriosis or something else.
Dr Datta said: “I usually tell women to note down their symptoms and periods in an app or in their diary.
“Then you should make an appointment to see your GP if the symptoms don’t improve over the course of a few menstrual cycle, which translates into 3-4 months.”
Your doctor may refer you to see a Gynaecologist, like Dr Datta, who will assess what to do next.
There is no cure for endometriosis at the moment, but there are plenty of treatments that could save the day.
Dr Datta said: “A Gynaecologist will see you initially in clinic to assess what to do next.
“After an examination, I may request an ultrasound to identify where the endometriosis is and suggest treatment based on this and your symptoms.
“This can include medication, such as the contraceptive pill or pain relief. We may also consider keyhole surgery to treat your symptoms.”
The only way to be certain you have endometriosis is a a keyhole surgery, also known as a laparoscopy.
This is where a surgeon passes a thin tube through a small cut in your tummy so they can see any patches of endometriosis tissue.
If they find any endometriosis tissue, they may treat it or remove part of it to be examined at a later stage, this is known as a biopsy.
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