So, what is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue that makes up the lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus.
Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison, Founder of FBW Gynaecology Plus in Adelaide, South Australia, and pioneer in single-incision laparoscopy, says, “Endometriosis is the ectopic implantation of the inner layer of the uterus or endometrium in different organs. If it is implanted in the wall of the uterus, we call it Adenomyosis, but if it is implanted in the pelvis, bowel, bladder, lungs, eyes, brain, it’s called Endometriosis.”
Despite the condition affecting 10% of women, endometriosis is only just gaining awareness and still takes around 7 – 10 years for each woman to be diagnosed.
Symptoms & Problems of Endometriosis
Some women with endometriosis have no symptoms, however the most common symptom is pelvic pain, especially with periods. Pain may occur:
• Just before or during your period
• Between periods, with worsened pain during the period
• During or after sex (deep penetration pain)
• With bowel movements or while urinating, especially during your period
• Having trouble holding urine
• Fatigue, muscle and nerve pain
Pelvic pain can also be caused by many other conditions, such as pelvic infections, bladder conditions and irritable bowel syndrome. Often women with endometriosis have more than one condition contributing to their pain.
Kirsty, a midwife and a registered nurse from Adelaide said, “As an Endometriosis suffer, I’ve had a substantial amount of symptoms, anything from headaches, tiredness, extreme bloating to the fact that I looked pregnant,” says Kirsty of her chronic illness, and even as a medical practitioner still felt naïve about it when she was first diagnosed, as the illness is so misunderstood and often neglected.
Aside from pain (although all patients experience pain differently), problems that can occur are:
– Difficulty falling pregnant, or infertility
– Ovarian cysts (Endometriomas)
For Kirsty, the disorder also came with painful intercourse, bowel dysfunction and infertility, “I was in a long-term relationship with my fiancé, and I never got pregnant in that whole time of nearly eleven years.”
Dr Willison adds, “Endometriosis can affect fertility in different ways. One is creating an unfriendly environment for the egg and sperm to be fertilised. The other thing is that it can interfere with tubal function and interfere with the transfer of the egg to the womb.”
Treatment options for Endometriosis:
– Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
– Hormonal birth control
– Other forms of hormone treatment (gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists)
Dr Willison says whatever the treatment, the most important thing is for it to be tailored to a patient’s stage of life.
“A woman should be able to seek second, third, fourth opinion if needed until she feels that she’s understood and listened to, and the plan is tailored according to her needs.”
If you are suffering from Endometriosis in Adelaide, or anywhere in Australia, give our friendly staff at FBW Gynaecology Plus call on 08 8297 2811.