Endometriosis is a condition where the cells that are normally found lining the uterus are also found in other areas of the body but usually within the pelvis. Each month this tissue outside of the uterus, under normal hormonal control, is built up then breaks down and bleeds in the same way as the lining of the uterus. This internal bleeding into the pelvis, unlike a period, has no way of leaving the body, which leads to inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
Classic symptoms of Endometriosis are:
Painful periods and pain starting before periods
Pain during or after sexual intercourse
Heavy and prolonged periods
Painful bowel movements
Pain when passing urine, or before or after passing urine
Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition. It is estimated that 2 million women in the UK have endometriosis. It can occur at any time from the onset of menstrual periods until menopause. It is extremely rare for it to be first diagnosed after the menopause, but not unknown. For the majority of women the condition ceases at menopause.
The only way to diagnose endometriosis is by laparoscopy. This is a minor operation in which a telescope is inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near the navel. This allows the surgeon to see pelvic organs and any endometrial implants and cysts.
There are a range of treatments available to women with endometriosis. Unfortunately, none of the treatments offer a cure for the condition. The treatments on offer can help by:
Relieving pain symptoms
Shrinking or slowing endometrial growth
Preserving or restoring fertility
Preventing/delaying recurrence of the disease