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Around 1.5 million people in the UK have Endometriosis, a common gynaecological condition which can be notoriously difficult to diagnose. Read on to find out more about Endometriosis, the symptoms to look out for and the treatments available

What is Endometriosis? 

Endometriosis is a chronic condition which can occur any time from puberty up to, and throughout, perimenopause, with symptoms usually easing after menopause. 

To understand the condition, it helps to understand the menstrual cycle as a whole.

Each month, hormones control the menstrual cycle. There are four phases: 

  • Menstruation: this is where the lining of the uterus breaks down and is released via the vagina as a period. This is day one of your cycle. 
  • Follicular phase: also starting on day one, this is the longest phase of the cycle, where follicles on the ovaries grow and develop an egg for fertilisation. Oestrogen levels rise steadily during this phase, and the uterus lining begins to thicken ready for a potential pregnancy. This lining is called the endometrium.
  • Ovulation: the mature egg is released and begins its journey down the fallopian tubes.
  • Luteal phase: during this phase, oestrogen levels drop and progesterone rises. If no pregnancy occurs, the egg is reabsorbed into the lining of the uterus and released- along with endometrial tissues, mucus and blood- as a period.

With Endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found in other places- such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Rarely, it can be found in places outside the pelvic area too. 

These tissues break down during the luteal phase in the same way as the endometrium, or uterus lining. But these cells aren’t able to leave the body as a period because they have no way to escape. This leads to pain, inflammation and scar tissue. 

What causes Endometriosis?

Doctors don’t know what causes Endometriosis, but several theories have been proposed: 

  • Genetics: according to the NHS, Endometriosis often runs in families and can affect certain ethnic groups more than others. 

  • Immune system: some scientists believe problems with the immune system can be a cause. This 2022 study found clear links between Endometriosis and the immune system, but advises that more research is needed. 
  • Endometrium cells spreading in the bloodstream: scientists also believe that the cells can spread though the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. 

Ultimately, doctors believe that there is likely to be more than one cause of Endometriosis. Endometriosis UK advises that the condition is not an infection, nor is it contagious, or a type of cancer.

What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?

As with many other conditions, symptoms of Endometrisosis can vary from person to person. Some may experience them with more intensity than others too. The most common symptoms are: 

How is Endometriosis diagnosed? 

According to Endometriosis UK, it can take up to 8 years for a diagnosis- so it’s a really good idea to keep a diary if you suspect you have Endometriosis.

The only way that Endometriosis can be officially diagnosed is via a laparoscopy. This involves a small telescope being inserted into the abdomen. This allows doctors to view the internal tissue and make a diagnosis.

Treatment for Endometriosis

There’s no cure for Endometriosis, but there are treatments that your doctor will discuss with you. These treatments aim to ease your symptoms, and they include:

  • Painkillers- such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Period pants. WUKA Stretch™️ for Super Heavy Flow and Ultimate™️ for Super Heavy Flow are designed to not only absorb a heavier flow, but they’re super soft and gentle on your body too. 
  • Hormonal medicines- such as the combined pill, or the patch.
  • Surgery- to remove endometrial tissue.
  • Surgery- to remove organs affected by Endometriosis, such as your appendix or part of your colon. 
  • Surgery- your doctor might suggest a hysterectomy, to remove your uterus.

Living with Endometriosis

Endometriosis can be difficult to live with, particularly in the time leading up to diagnosis. Endometriosis UK is a great source of information and support, and they also have a directory of local support groups that might be useful to you. Other support groups that might help include: The Endometriosis Foundation, Pain UK, plus Endo Girl Gang, The Endo Warriors, The Endo Spectrum and natblake_endowawarrior on Instagram 

living with endometriosis

Living with the condition can be a physical and emotional challenge, so reach out for help and support if you need it.

Mental health issues 

Many patients suffering with Endometriosis report feelings of low mood, anxiety and depression, alongside fatigue due to the various symptoms caused by the condition. The road to diagnosis can be difficult too, and this can also impact on mental health and overall wellbeing.

Fertility issues

Endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility, but there’s a good chance that you could experience problems getting pregnant. Endometriosis UK reports that 60—70% of people with the condition are able to conceive naturally, even in cases where symptoms are severe.  

And the NHS advises that “Surgery to remove endometriosis tissue can help improve your chances of getting pregnant, although there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get pregnant after treatment.”

Adhesions and ovarian cysts

Endometriosis also makes the likelihood of adhesions and cysts on the ovaries more likely. Adhesions are areas of endometrial tissue which stick to organs and can sometimes cause them to fuse together. Ovarian cysts can sometimes be large and painful, and are more likely if the Endometriosis is present near the ovaries.

Both adhesions and cysts can be treated with surgery, but there is a chance they could return. 

Bladder and bowel problems

Endometrial tissue present in the bowel or bladder can be harder to treat, and many cases require surgery at this point. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist to discuss treatment options which could involve cutting away parts of the organs.  

Following surgery, you may need to use a catheter or urostomy for a short while. It may also be necessary to have a temporary colostomy.

Period problems

Endometriosis can cause very long and heavy periods, along with cramps and intense PMS symptoms. Many sufferers experience cramps and other symptoms throughout their entire cycle, with intensity increasing during menstruation. 

Stretch Midi Brief Period Pants Style Super heavy Flow Black Colour Packaging

It’s important to stay on top of pain relief, and using a hot water bottle can help with day to day pain management too. Our wearable hot water bottle can be tied around the waist so you have your hands free to carry on doing what you’re doing. 

We also recommend period pants to help you manage your flow. WUKA Stretch™ for Super Heavy Flow  are perfect for Endo sufferers- they hold up to 60ml period blood and are made using our Stretch™ technology, allowing them to gently support, whilst also stretching to accommodate bloating

Related posts

Is There a Link Between Endometriosis and Your Period?

Why is My Period Heavy?

What is Adenomyosis?

FAQs

What is Endometriosis caused by?

Doctors aren’t sure what causes Endometriosis, but there are a few theories linked to genetics, the immune system and the bloodstream.

Does Endometriosis go away?

There is no cure for Endometriosis, but there are treatments that you can discuss with your doctor. 

How is Endometriosis diagnosed?

The only way to diagnose Endometriosis is via a laparoscopy. Keep a record of your symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.


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