Dr Melanie: Early diagnosis for endometriosis
Catching this common condition early is key to stopping damage and problems
Endometriosis is one of the commonest women’s diseases to need treatment; it affects around one in 10 of us – sometimes even as teenagers. But diagnosing the condition takes on average more than seven years, as symptoms are often blamed on other conditions.
In endometriosis, womb lining cells are found outside the womb, in and around the pelvis, sometimes in the abdomen, or even further away; they respond to the hormone cycle, and bleed when periods occur. It may have no symptoms or produce monthly pain – and long term it can cause internal scarring, chronic pain, disability and infertility.
The cause isn’t known, but it may be related to genes (it can run in families), the immune system, hormones or inflammation. NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), recently issued new guidelines to help speed up diagnosis and treatment, as well as improve specialist endometriosis services.
You may have severe period pain, chronic pelvic pain, or deep pain during or after lovemaking; periods may be heavy too. You may also notice period-related/ cyclical symptoms from other organs, for example, blood in the urine/stools, pain when you urinate/ open your bowels, diarrhoea/constipation, bloating, backache or even nosebleeds. Not surprisingly, this can lead to fatigue, depression and difficulties with everyday activities and relationships. Endometriosis is also a common cause of infertility; it can produce adhesions,
Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones has over 30 years’ experience
as a GP