This article was written by our pelvic physio, Jess Teeger. Jess says:
“I urge everyone, both men and women, to read about this condition as it is not only as common as asthma or diabetes, it is often misdiagnosed or ignored which causes shame and suffering for the women with this condition”.
For further discussion on this important topic in Pelvic Pain, take a look at SBS Insight’s program on Endometriosis that aired on Wednesday 21st November, 2018.
Endometriosis (commonly known as ‘Endo’) is a common condition affecting 1 in 9 women in Australia. Despite this, it often takes between 6.5 and 9 years for the condition to get diagnosed! At Sydney Pelvic Clinic we’re working to increase awareness of endo by drawing more attention to women’s pelvic health issues. We believe we have a very important role in a woman’s endo journey and hope the following insights are useful.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common disease in which the tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it in other parts of the body. This abnormal tissue grows in the pelvic cavity (such as bladder, bowel, ovaries) but can be found in other areas of the body too.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Some women will not have ANY symptoms of Endo but those who do tend to report the following:
- Painful periods
- Heavy and prolonged periods
- Pain with emptying the bladder or bowel or both
- Pain in the pelvis, lower belly or back
- Painful sex
- Sometimes difficulty falling pregnant or irregular periods
Who can help me manage my endo?
The best approach to endometriosis is one that might include any or all of the following health professionals:
A true diagnosis of endometriosis can only be made by laparoscopic investigation, which involves testing the tissue cells to see if you have endometriosis. The laparoscopy also grades the endometriosis severity and identifies its location. Gynaecologists will often be able to remove some of the endometriosis during the laparoscopy which can help to improve symptoms.
Often due to the many years of pain associate with endometriosis, women will have what is known as chronic pelvic pain. Even if the endometriosis is surgically removed, this does not always completely eliminate the pelvic pain as it can be a result of muscle tightness or over-activity that has developed over time. Learn more about Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles here.
A pelvic physio is professionally trained to treat pelvic pain, release tightness in the muscles in and around the pelvis, restore elasticity to the tissue, assist women in returning to intercourse without pain and return women to exercise without flaring up their pelvic conditions.
• Dietitian – the gut microbiome appears to have a link with Endometriosis.
• Psychologist – often the diagnosis of Endo can be both a relief and a shock. It can be helpful to talk to a psychologist and explore your feelings or concerns about your diagnosis.
I am not sure if I have endometriosis or not but I do have painful sex. Who should I see?
Seeing a Pelvic Physiotherapist is a good place to start. We can discuss your symptoms, your pelvic health history and do an objective assessment to see whether we feel that endometriosis could be a component of your pain or not. We are equipped with the knowledge and skills to assess and treat pelvic pain as well as refer to a specialist if it is required.
Is there a cure for endometriosis?
At this stage, there is no perfect cure, however the combination of medical management, physiotherapy and nutrition is very promising. By finding out what combination works best for you, you can be in control of your Endo instead of it controlling you!
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Learn more about Jessica Teeger