- Painful Periods
- Heavy Periods
- Chronic Pelvic Pain
- Painful Sex
- Bleeding After Sex
- Difficulty Falling Pregnant
It is a common misperception that menstrual pain is “normal” and just something women have to “put up with”. This might not be the case. If pain interferes with daily quality of life and has an impact on work and personal relationships… then it could be Endometriosis and should be investigated.2, 3
Can young girls also get Endometriosis?
Yes! Adolescents who suffer from pelvic pain that does not respond to conventional therapy may have endometriosis. Symptoms in young girls often differ from those of adults who have endometriosis. Many young girls with endometriosis have severe pain during menstruation and in between menstruation. Bowel and bladder symptoms leading to pain during urination or when having a stool are also common in young girls.7
Young girls who suspect they may have endometriosis should seek medical help as soon as possible. With an early diagnosis it may be possible to decrease life-long effects associated with endometriosis – including pain and infertility – and improve quality of life.7
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What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common condition that affects up to 10 % of all women during their childbearing years.4 Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial-like tissue that grows outside the uterine cavity. These include on the surfaces of organs in the pelvic and abdominal cavity. 5
About Endometriosis pain
One of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is pelvic pain. Pelvic pain associated with endometriosis usually occurs more or less at the same time as menstruation. The pain may increase in intensity as the disease worsens.4
Other symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis should be considered if you are experiencing:5, 6
- pelvic pain
- painful periods
- pain during sexual intercourse
- fertility problems
- low back pain or
- have a family history of endometriosis.
If your doctor suspects that you may have endometriosis he/she will take a history, examine you and prescribe treatment.
Treatment options are:4, 5
- Surgical treatment (laparoscopy)
These treatment options can reduce your pain, and / or reduce your endometriotic lesions, preserve fertility as far as possible, and improve your quality of life.4, 5
A laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic by a trained surgeon.2 This procedure which is used to confirm the presence of endometriosis, is performed through three small cuts made in the wall of the abdomen. A needle is inserted through the navel to fill the abdomen with gas. The gas pushes the abdominal wall away from the internal organs so that a small camera (laparoscope) can be inserted through the navel.
While looking through the laparoscope, the doctor can see the reproductive organs including the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes, and ovaries.8
What causes Endometriosis?
We do not know the exact cause of endometriosis, but it is postulated that during menstruating, some of the blood that a woman sheds during her period, flows into her pelvis and attaches to surfaces in the pelvis.
There appears to be a familial tendency of endometriosis which suggests that this disease could be inherited, or it could result from genetic errors, which makes some women more likely than others to develop the condition.4, 6
REFERENCES – Further reading: 1. Dunselman GAJ, Vermeulen N, Becker C, et al. ESHRE guideline: management of women with endometriosis. Human Reproduction 2014; 29(3): 400-412. Accessed 13 June 2016. 2. Hummelshöj L et al. Update on endometriosis. Women’s Health. 2006;2(1):53–56. 3. Ballard K et al. What’s the delay? A qualitative study of women’s experiences of reaching a diagnosis of endometriosis. Fertility and Sterility. 2006;86(5). 4. Crosignani P et al. Advances in the management of endometriosis: an update for clinicians. I Clinica Obstetrica e Ginecologica. 2006;12(2):179–189. 5. Winkel C. Evaluation and Management of Women With Endometriosis. Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2003;102(2). 6. Jackson B et al. Managing the misplaced: Approach to endometriosis. Can Fam Physician. 2006;52:1420-1424. 7. Laufer M et al. Adolescent Endometriosis: Diagnosis and Treatment Approaches. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2003;16:S3-S11. 8. American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Laparoscopy and hysteroscopy. A guide for patients. Birmingham, USA: ASRM, 2016. 9. Fischer JR, Giudice LC, Milad M, et al. Diagnosis and management of endometriosis: Pathophysiology to practice. Crofton, MD, USA: Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO); 2013. https://www.apgo.org/binary/EndometriosisCMEMonograph.pdf. Accessed 17 January 2017. Bayer (Pty) Ltd, Reg. No.:1968/011192/07. 27 Wrench Road, Isando, 1609. Tel: 011 921 5000. L.ZA.MKT.WH.02.2017.1095