Dr Me­lanie: Early di­ag­no­sis for en­dometrio­sis

Catch­ing this com­mon con­di­tion early is key to stop­ping dam­age and prob­lems

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Contents - Dr Me­lanie

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.

The symp­toms

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’ ex­pe­ri­enceas a GP

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