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What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue lining of the womb grows outside the womb, on the inside of pelvis, on ovaries, bowel and many other organs.

Endometriosis is very common. It affects 2 Million women in the UK. That is around one in ten women in their reproductive age.  It can be a very painful condition and it is diagnosed when these symptoms are investigated. Some women may also experience difficulty getting pregnant.

What causes Endometriosis?

What causes endometriosis is not known yet. Over 50% of the cases have a genetic link.

What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?

The most common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • painful or heavy periods
  • pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • fertility problems

How severe the symptoms are depends largely on where in your body the endometriosis is, rather than the amount of endometriosis you have. A small amount of tissue can be as painful as, or more painful than, a large amount.

How is Endometriosis diagnosed?

Unfortunately, even in the developed world, there are significant delays in diagnosing and treating Endometriosis. Studies have revealed that on average it takes 8 years between first experiencing symptoms to the diagnosis of endometriosis. However, there is growing awareness about Endometriosis and it is being picked up sooner.

This is our pathway to help GPs make the diagnosis of endometriosis sooner.  Endometriosis pathway for General Practitioners

The gold standard for the diagnosis of Endometriosis is Laparoscopy (an operation where a camera is inserted through your belly button) and biopsy of excised tissue. Severe Endometriosis can be picked up on Ultrasound and MRI imaging but small spots of endometriosis can only be seen on Laparoscopy.

Conditions associated with Endometriosis?

Fertility Problems 

More than 50% of women mild to moderate endometriosis will still be able to get pregnant without treatment. Pregnancy is also known to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis, although the symptoms often return once the menstrual cycle returns to normal.

Surgery can improve fertility by removing endometriosis tissue, but there is no guarantee that this will allow you to get pregnant.

Adhesions and Ovarian Cysts Causing Pain

Adhesions are ‘sticky’ areas of endometriosis tissue that can fuse organs together.

Ovarian cysts (fluid-filled cysts in the ovaries), can occur when the endometriosis tissue is in or near the ovaries.

Endometriomas are cysts filled with a thick brown tar like substance (a mixture of endometriosis cells and old blood) and are also known as chocolate cysts.

Both of these complications can be removed through surgery, but may recur if the endometriosis returns.

Post-operative Complications 

Whilst every effort will be taken to ensure your wellbeing, there are risks associated with any surgery. Also, there is a risk that endometriosis can recur. Please find below leaflets on laparoscopy and laparoscopic procedures.