Endometriosis 101: Do you have endometriosis symptoms?
2nd April 2020
Endometriosis is a common condition women struggle with, but something you may not have considered as a source of period (or, pelvic) problems. We encourage you to look into your own period health and familiarize yourself with endometriosis symptoms. Not to alarm you, but to empower you to understand the inner workings of your body.
As our expert, Dr Jessica Farren, often says: “no woman should ever suffer painful periods because ‘that’s just how it is’.” With that in mind, let’s talk about endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where small pieces of your womb lining begin to grow in other places (commonly, your ovaries and fallopian tube). It can affect women of all ages. In the UK, an estimated 1 in 10 women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis: it’s the second most common gynecological condition.
What causes endometriosis?
We’re not clear on what causes endometriosis. Research indicates any number of theories, from genetic predisposition, to environmental causes and retrograde menstruation. However, none of these theories fully explain the cause of endometriosis, especially in rarer cases (like when women have had a hysterectomy).
Symptoms of endometriosis vary between women. The symptoms are severe for some women, but milder for others. These are the main symptoms of endometriosis:
- Pelvic pain that usually worsens during your period
- Pain during, or after sex
- Pain when peeing, or pooing during your period
- Feeling sick, or experiencing constipation, diarrhea or blood in your pee during your period
- Difficulty conceiving
- Menorrhagia (heavier periods)
Diagnosing endometriosis is difficult, since other conditions cause similar symptoms. Symptom severity can vary considerably between women. But the only way of knowing for sure is to have a laparoscopy. In most cases, your GP will recommend treatment if they suspect endometriosis.
Women like Lena Dunham are vocal about how difficult it can be to be diagnosed with endometriosis. Because diagnosis can be difficult, our experts are here to talk through your symptoms and help you advocate for yourself with your GP.
Endometriosis has no cure. Therefore, treatments are aimed at easing symptoms. Here are some options your GP might offer:
- Painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol
- Hormonal contraception (like the combined pill, patch, IUS)
- Hormonal medicine (called GnRH analogues)
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor might discuss:
- Surgery to cut away parts of endometriosis tissue
- A hysterectomy (removing the womb)
Endometriosis and infertility
Unfortunately, endometriosis is linked to infertility. However, having endometriosis doesn’t mean you cannot get pregnant naturally. Surgery to remove endometriosis tissue can help improve chances of conceiving.
Our resident gynae expert Dr Jess has written this great article on the Adia app, about endometriosis and fertility. This may help you understand how endometriosis affects your fertility. To read the article, use your free Adia account or sign up.
What if I do have endometriosis?
If you take the quiz, and find you’re at risk of having endometriosis, please don’t be alarmed. You can book a chat or call with one of our women’s health experts who can talk you through next steps. Remember, being high risk is not the same as having endometriosis.
Firstly, being diagnosed puts you closer to managing your symptoms and health. Secondly, you won’t be alone. There are support groups like Endometriosis UK, and our experts are always on hand to help you.
If you’re trying to conceive, taking our short quizzes can help you better understand your body and cycle. Finally, don’t be afraid to get to know your body. Know that our experts are here for you if you have any concerns.