Did you know? March is endometriosis awareness month, meaning there’s no better time to learn more about this women’s health condition.
Endometriosis, also called endo, is an inflammatory condition that affects women. While the general public may not know a lot about endometriosis, it’s actually extremely common, impacting an estimated 1 in 10 women.
It’s important to bring awareness to this condition, to help those with it and those who have it and don’t even know it. If you’re dealing with suspected endometriosis, you’re not alone. With greater understanding and knowledge of this condition, you can advocate for the treatment and support you need. Let’s learn more about what endometriosis is, and how it impacts women today.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an inflammatory tissue disorder. When you have endo, tissue that is similar to the tissue that lines the interior of the uterus, grows outside this layer and in other parts of the body. This leads to the development of cysts, scar tissue, or endometrial tissue adhesions on the pelvis and uterus. This can lead to chronic pain and a number of other symptoms.
Do I Have Endometriosis?
Pelvic pain and uterus pain are all too common for women during the regular menstrual cycle, which can make diagnosing endometriosis complicated. Someone with severe endometriosis might not have chronic pain, whereas someone with an easier case will. Many women may have this condition and be unaware as a result.
Here are some things to look for when diagnosing endometriosis.
- Painful periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Painful urination and/or bowel movements
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- Irregular periods
How to Diagnose Endometriosis
As endometriosis has to do with pelvic pain, it can often be mistaken as other female sexual pain conditions. Diagnosis can only be made by undergoing a laparoscopy and having a tissue sample (biopsy) taken. Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that will be performed under general anaesthetic. During the procedure, a thin telescope is placed into the belly button (umbilicus), which magnifies the tissue to identify even tiny amounts of disease. The surgeon will take a tissue sample of any tissue that is thought to be endometriosis, and this will be viewed by a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis.
Whether you have received a diagnosis of Endometriosis, or not, our skilled Pelvic Health Physiotherapists can assess for pelvic tension that may be contributing to your symptoms caused by Endometriosis.
Endometriosis Impact on Women
The lack of awareness of this condition has had a negative impact on those seeking treatment. This is a massively common condition, yet there is still no known cause or treatment. This leaves many sufferers to deal with the pain and consequences of the condition alone.
Endometriosis causes more than just pain for those who suffer. Those with endometriosis will also often suffer from infertility, fatigue, difficult menstruation, and other symptoms. Severe pain can quickly transform into chronic endometriosis pain, the kind that can keep someone from fully living life.
Endometriosis can also increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, and conditions that impact the bowel, bladder, and uterus.
The pain paired with susceptibility to other illnesses greatly impacts those with endometriosis. This disease can lead to lost opportunities when it comes to work, school, family planning, etc., as the person with it deals with their condition. The lack of treatment and inability to cure endometriosis can also negatively impact mental health, leaving those with endo feeling depressed and hopeless.
A condition that is this dangerous, and impacts such a large population, deserves proper funding, research, and support to improve endometriosis care. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done to bring awareness to this condition, and advancements to its treatment options.
Endometriosis is a condition that leads many women to suffer in silence, despite the mass numbers of women it impacts. As we touched on above, an estimated 1 in 10 women around the globe has endometriosis. That’s close to 200 million people. Despite this, though, there is still little public awareness of the condition.
Movements like the endometriosis foundation EndoMarch Global Movement are fighting to bring public awareness to this condition. Their work has gone across the globe, inspiring increased funding for endometriosis research.
Thankfully, because of the work of groups like EndoMarch, more and more research is being conducted on endometriosis and how to treat it. Some helpful studies that have come out lately include:
- Development of blood test kits for easier endometriosis diagnosis
- Keyhole surgery to treat endometriosis-related infertility
- New medications, like Danazol and Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues to treat endometriosis pain
- Acupuncture for endometriosis pain
You can review more research, like the ones listed above, here.
Helping a Partner with Endometriosis
Endometriosis can greatly impact intimate relationships, putting a strain on someone’s ability to participate in sex pain-free, and even easily conceive. If you have a partner with this condition are confused about how to support them, we suggest doing the following:
The most important thing partners can do is openly communicate. Talk with your partner about this condition, how it makes both of you feel, physically and emotionally. Try to talk about the ways endometriosis has impacted your relationship, without placing any guilt or blame. Accept the fact that, in different ways, endometriosis does impact both people in a relationship.
Approach Intimacy Differently
Pain during sexual intercourse is a common symptom of endometriosis pain, leading to someone with this condition not wanting to participate in sex. A lowered libido can also come with the impact of different medications, and the way endometriosis can impact mental health.
If endometriosis has halted intimacy with your partner, try to approach it in a new way. There are non-penetrative ways to participate in sex that will lead to less pain. You can also explore new ways of being intimate outside of sex.
It’s important for partners of people with endometriosis to be aware of how this condition impacts fertility. Unfortunately, many of those who suffer from endometriosis will struggle to conceive and have children.
Hormone therapy for endometriosis will also, often, act as a contraceptive, making conception even harder. This can lead women to feel like they must stop treatment and live with pain in order to conceive.
It’s important to be supportive here and prioritize your partner’s health. Your approach to family planning might have to look different when dealing with endometriosis, but that doesn’t mean having a family is impossible! Reach out to your doctor for your options.
Finally, if you and your partner are struggling to deal with an endometriosis diagnosis or the conversations around it, consider counselling. A counsellor can do wonders to help you work through the feelings around this condition in a productive way.