Do you know that one in nine Australian women are diagnosed with endometriosis?
Surprisingly, despite how common endometriosis is, there’s still a lack of understanding in the community about this condition. Misconceptions such as ‘severe period pain is normal’ and ‘you can’t be diagnosed with endometriosis as a teenager’ result in many women not being diagnosed until years after their first symptoms develop.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder where the tissue that is similar to the tissue that lines the uterus grows in other parts of the body, usually in the pelvic cavity.
When the uterus bleeds during a period, the tissue outside the uterus also bleeds. This causes inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions and cysts. The scar tissue builds up over time and can damage the fallopian tubes, immobilise and fuse organs.
Every woman’s endometriosis journey is different, but women often experience severe pain that stops them carrying out their usual daily activities. Symptoms differ from woman to woman, however, some symptoms may include:
March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month and here at Grace Private we’re passionate about sharing information about this common condition.
We want every woman to live her best life, so to help build a greater understanding of endometriosis here are five surprising facts about this condition.
Surgical intervention is the only way to successfully diagnose endometriosis.
After consultation, our Grace gynaecologist may recommend a laparoscopy, which can be done as a day stay or overnight stay procedure depending on complexity. General anaesthesia is required and both diagnosis and treatment can take place simultaneously.
During a laparoscopy a small incision is made close to the belly button. A small telescope called a laparoscope is inserted which is attached to a video camera, so the surgical team can see the procedure.
The surgeon will examine the pelvic organs, looking for endometriosis lesions and endometriosis as well as scars and adhesions. They will also check for other abnormalities. Endometriosis will be removed at the time of surgery and sent for histology to confirm the diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with endometriosis there isn’t a cure and it’s not preventable. However, there is treatment available to help decrease the severity of your symptoms. The three main types of treatment for endometriosis include:
Medication can be prescribed to minimise pain and help relieve some endometriosis symptoms. Drugs used for endometriosis can include some hormone therapies.
Your Grace Private gynaecologist may recommend surgery that removes tissue from your body. Our talented gynaecologists specialise in minimally invasive surgery which involves making small abdominal incisions and using a laparoscopic microscope to complete the surgery. The outcome is minimal scarring and a quicker recovery period.
There are several alternative therapies available, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, exercise, changes in diet and reduced stress.
Our Grace Private doctors work closely within a multidisciplinary team including physiotherapists, dietician and psychologists to ensure we are able to optimise your outcomes before, during and after surgery.
Many people are surprised to learn that teenagers can be diagnosed with endometriosis. Unfortunately, it’s often considered normal to experience painful periods, so the symptoms are not diagnosed correctly. For this reason, many women aren’t diagnosed with endometriosis until they reach their twenties.
The level of pain you experience isn’t indicative of the severity of your endometriosis. Severe pain doesn’t mean you have a severe case of endometriosis.
Despite common belief, you can fall pregnant with endometriosis. Having endometriosis doesn’t mean you are infertile.
However, endometriosis can affect fertility by blocking the fallopian tubes or inhibiting their ability to function properly. Inflammatory substances may affect the quality of the eggs and sperm, as well as fertilisation, implantation and embryo development.
It’s not proven that medication can improve fertility, but you can boost your fertility naturally by eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. Laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis and IVF are also options if you are finding it difficult to fall pregnant naturally.
There’s also a common misconception that pregnancy is a cure for endometriosis. This is untrue, you may experience reduced symptoms during pregnancy, however it isn’t a cure.
Want more information about endometriosis? We’ll be sharing more information about endometriosis during National Endometriosis Awareness Month or you can visit Qendo or Endometriosis Australia if you’d like to learn more.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of endometriosis and would like to book an appointment with one of our Grace gynaecologists, ‘ask for Grace’ next time you visit your GP. We provide excellence in care for women of all ages and are here to support you in all stages of your healthcare journey.