an expert rundown of definition, symptoms, and treatment options
Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial-like tissue grows outside of the uterus. Endometriosis is a common yet widely under-recognised condition. It affects more than 1 in 10 women, girls, and people assigned female at birth.
In Endometriosis, endometrial-like cells react in the same way as those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding every month. However, unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
Endometriosis is most commonly found in the lining of the pelvis, the ovaries, the area between the upper vagina and the rectum, the urinary bladder, and the bowel.
A common misconception is that Endometriosis is only located in the pelvic area.
Endometrial-like tissue can be found almost anywhere in the body.
It's important to remember that the symptoms and the level of pain
do not necessarily reflect the severity or stage of Endometriosis.
Here are some symptoms of Endometriosis:
- Persistent/Chronic pain in the tummy, back, and/or pelvic area
(this can be throughout the cycle, during sex, outside of the cycle, during bowel movements etc)
- Bloating (also referred to as Endo belly)
-Bladder and Bowel problems
(diarrhoea, constipation, pain, blood in poo or pee)
- Feeling sick
- Difficulty with fertility or not being able to get pregnant at all
Endometriosis can have a ripple effect on someone’s life, with wide-ranging impacts that go beyond physical symptoms such as mental health (anxiety, depression, isolation), relationship/sex difficulties, work-related impact, mobility, and an overall reduced quality of life.
While there's no cure for Endometriosis, the symptoms can be treated and made more manageable. Treatments vary from person to person and typically include medications such as painkillers, hormonal medicine and contraceptives, lifestyle changes, surgery, pelvic floor physiotherapy and psychological support.
A multidisciplinary approach that includes both physical and mental aspects of living with this condition (biopsychosocial approach) is the most effective as it targets all areas of your health.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is an important part of managing symptoms of pain in Endometriosis.
Since some symptoms of Endometriosis are experienced due to tension in the pelvic region, physiotherapy can help decrease the tension and in turn have an effect on pain and other symptoms (e.g. bladder symptoms, pain during sex). Psychological treatments can help to manage the emotional and psychological impact of the condition.
Femspace offer professionally guided self-help pelvic floor physiotherapy, psychological support and sex and relationship therapy for Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a complex and often misunderstood condition, but recognising and treating it is crucial for those who may be struggling with its symptoms. People with Endometriosis can benefit from a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, followed by a tailored treatment plan that may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
With the right support, people with Endometriosis can manage their symptoms
and lead fulfilling lives.
by Hannah Barned