Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the UK (that’s 1.5 million women) and approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide and annoyingly, it’s still not covered enough in the media or even by our own GPs. But it should be.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and this week it’s Endometriosis Awareness Week. Although it’s the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK it still takes an average of 7.5 years for women to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful gynaecological condition that can cause painful periods, pelvic pain, infertility as well as other symptoms. The tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other areas of the body, most commonly in the pelvic region. This tissue responds to hormones in the same way as the lining of the womb but, with no outlet, it can cause inflammation, scarring and adhesions, leading to severe pain and many other symptoms.
Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is common and can result in delays to treatment as well as women living in pain for many years. Endometriosis is incurable but symptoms can be treated with painkillers, hormones treatments (including the contraceptive pill) and surgery can help improve the quality of life for women who have endometriosis.
Girls star Lena Dunham has helped raise awareness about endometriosis and is often very vocal on the subject. Susan Sarandon, Louise Redknapp and Emma Forbes also suffer from the disease.
Someone who knows about its debilitating effects is Zara Holland, Miss GB. She began to suffer from symptoms when she was just 16 years old. At the time, she was dismissed and told she merely suffered from ‘bad periods’.
Zara says, “My GP said it was just bad periods and to try different contraceptive pills, but I knew this couldn’t be ‘normal’ – I suffered so badly each month, I would have to take a week off work. After 2 years I just couldn’t go on like that; my mum came with me to the GP and demanded a referral to a gynaecological specialist. I had a laparoscopic procedure which confirmed endometriosis, and they were able to give me laser treatment. At last I was diagnosed and could be treated appropriately.”
“I had two years of suffering but for many women it can take years, unnecessary treatments and being told they should ‘just get on with it’ like everyone else.” Zara says, “I’m supporting Endometriosis UK to raise awareness; I don’t want women continuing to suffer needlessly.”
Do you have endometriosis?
While endometriosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, and not all women are the same, there are five symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored.
Overall, if you’re concerned about your periods and gynaecological health, please speak to your GP. Being in pain is not normal.
For more information please visit endometriosis-uk.org
The main image is courtesy of Kaye Sedgwick-Jones and copyright to Kaye Sedgwick-Jones. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Although I am highly interested in healthcare, herbal remedies and nutrition, I am not a trained doctor or nutritionist. Please consult your doctor for further help and advice.