Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition. It is estimated that around 1.5 – 2 million (1 in 10) women in the UK have endometriosis.* However, despite being a common disease, symptoms are often missed by a Doctors diagnosis.
Endometriosis UK is highlighting the delays in diagnosis and calling for shorter diagnosis time, as well as better education about Endometriosis for GPs and nurses in the UK.
Jane Hudson Jones, Endometriosis UK Chief Executive, said:
“One in ten women in the UK has endometriosis, and yet it still takes an average of 7.5 years to get a diagnosis. During this time those with severe endometriosis live with increasing and debilitating pain and spread of the disease; lose their relationships and livelihoods: a devastation of their quality of life. 7.5 years is far too long for any woman to suffer and we aim to change that. One of the ways we will make change happen is by supporting GPs to understand the signs of endometriosis so that they can make referrals faster, reducing current diagnosis times.”
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. Endometrial cells react in the same way as cells in your womb, except that they are located outside the womb.
The hormones produced during the monthly cycle stimulate the endometriosis, causing it to grow, then break down and bleed. Unlike a period, this is an internal bleed which has no way of leaving the body, leading to inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue. Endometriosis tissue can also be found in the ovary, where it can form cysts.
Endometriosis is usually found inside the pelvis, around the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, on the outside of the womb or ligaments, or the area between your rectum and you womb. It can also be found on the bowel, the bladder, the intestines, the vagina and the rectum.
There are several theories as to what causes the condition, however, there is no proven cause.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The most common symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Painful sex
- Painful periods
However other symptoms experienced can include:
- Pain: Pain starting before periods, Ovaluation pain, Leg pain, Back pain.
- Bleeding: Prolonged bleeding, Pre-menstrual spotting, Irregular periods
- Bowel and Bladder symptoms: Painful bowel movements, Bleeding from the bowel, Pain and/or blood during urination, Symptoms of an irritable bowel.
- Other symptoms: Lethargy, Nausea, Extreme tiredness, Depression, Frequent infections, Feeling faint/fainting during periods.
There are many ways of managing the symptoms of endometriosis, but deciding on the appropriate treatment for you will depend on your individual circumstances and are best talked through with a doctor.
Type of treatment available include:
- Hormone treatment
- Pain management
- Complementary therapies
- Emotional support
Endometriosis Awareness Week
You can raise awareness by wearing yellow this month or by joining in with the #EndometriosisAwarenessWeek hashtag on twitter. If you have been diagnosed, you can also join in the conversation by tweeting a photo of yourself holding a piece of paper with how long you waited for a diagnosis, using the hashtag #TooLong.
Sign Endometriosis UK’s petition calling for faster diagnosis and greater education about Endometriosis amongst the medical profession by clicking here.
What to take a more active stance against Endometriosis? On Saturday 28 March between 12noon and 3pm, endometriosis UK will be running their Worldwide EndoMarch UK 2015; marching through Central London. Why not join the march to show your support for those suffering from endometriosis?
If you have recently been diagnosed with Endometriosis, you can request a ‘Recently diagnosed’ information pack from Endometriosis UK or call the Helpline: 0808 808 2227. You can also sign up to a local support group or join the online community and speak to other women with endometriosis, here.
What do you think? Have your say on Endometriosis and raising awareness in the comments section below.
*Information courtesy of Endometriosis UK and the Endometriosis Diagnosis Survey 2015