What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common condition where cells of the lining of the womb (the endometrium) are found elsewhere, usually in the pelvis and around the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It mainly affects women during their reproductive years. Endometriosis is not an infection and it is not contagious.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain, pain during or after sex and painful, heavy periods. It may cause problems with getting pregnant. It can affect many areas of a woman’s life including her general physical health, emotional wellbeing and daily routine. Many women may have no symptoms. It is a long-term condition. Some women with endometriosis become pregnant easily while others have difficulty getting pregnant.
What causes endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when the cells of the lining of the womb are found in other parts of the body, usually the pelvis. Each month this tissue outside the womb thickens and breaks down and bleeds in the same way as the lining of the womb. This internal bleeding into the pelvis, unlike a period, has no way of leaving the body. This causes inflammation, pain and damage to the reproductive organs. Less commonly, endometriosis may occur on the bowel and bladder, or deep within the muscle wall of the uterus (adenomyosis). It can also rarely be found in other parts of the body.
Several factors may influence your decision about treatment. These include:
The options for treatment may be:
Hormone treatments: There is a range of hormone treatments to stop or reduce ovulation (the release of an egg) to allow the endometriosis to shrink or disappear. The hormonal methods below are contraceptives and will prevent you from becoming pregnant:
Some women find that recreational exercise improves their wellbeing, which may help to improve some symptoms of endometriosis.
Surgery: Surgery can be used to remove areas of endometriosis. There are different types of surgery, depending on where the endometriosis is and how extensive it is. How successful the surgery is can vary and you may need further surgery.
What if I am having difficulty in getting pregnant?
Getting pregnant can be a problem for some women with endometriosis. Your doctor should provide you with full information about your options such as assisted conception. If you become pregnant, endometriosis is unlikely to put your pregnancy at risk.