Endometriosis is a common condition than affects more than 10% of Australian women. The cause of this condition is unknown, and it can be extremely painful for women.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when the cells similar to those that line the uterus, grow outside of the uterus. The endometrial tissue can grow on the ovaries, bowel and tissues lining the pelvis. The hormonal changesthat occur during the menstrual cycle affect the misplaced endometrial tissue causing inflammation and pain.
Symptom can include:
- Painful periods
- Pain with intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Ovulation pain
- Bowel and bladder pain
- Pain in lower back and thighs
- Reduced fertility
- Nausea and tiredness
- Premenstrual symptoms.
Most women think painful periods are normal, however pain experienced with endometriosis can be so bad, it stops sufferers attending work or school.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms the home doctor experts at House Call Doctor recommend contacting your GP or local healthcare professional.
GPs usually start with a detailed medical history to determine the potential causes of your symptoms. The causes of endometriosis are unknown and therefore diagnosis can be difficult. Tests that can be used to help diagnose include:
- Blood tests in later stages of endometriosis
- Laparoscopy, which is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthetic. A medical instrument with a camera is used to examine your pelvic organs
Currently there is no cure for endometriosis, but it can be treated effectively with medication or with surgery. The most effective treatment involves removing scar tissue with surgery. Other treatment options include:
- In mild cases of endometriosis, observation with no medical intervention
- Hormone therapy including progestins, gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists or the oral contraceptive pill
- Laparoscopic surgery, laparotomy, bowel surgery or a hysterectomy in extreme cases.