Women who suffer with the condition have reported how it affects their relationships, ability to interact with their children and their sleep.
So what is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is the occurrence of endometrial cell outside the uterus. They are most commonly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus and intestines and on the surface lining of the pelvic cavity.
Endometriosis affects women in their reproductive years. Most women who have endometriosis do not have symptoms; however some Women's symptoms are pelvic pain, heavy periods, pain with intercourse and abnormal vaginal bleeding these may impact on relationship.
Endometriosis can prevent other wise healthy couples from conceiving. Infertility is not fully understood but it is believed that it could be caused by the endometrial cells distorting the fallopian tubes which transport the eggs from the ovaries. Alternatively, endometriosis may affect fertility through production of hormones and other substances that have a negative effect on ovulation, fertilization of the egg, and/or implantation of the embryo.
It has been documented that women with endometriosis seem to have a mildly increased risk of developing certain types of ovarian cancer, know as epithelial ovarian cancer.
Diagnosing the problem
A survey carried out by Endometriosis UK indicated that many women had been misdiagnosed with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression; pelvic inflammatory disease and even psychological pain before the true cause of their problems have been discovered.
Endometriosis can be suspected based on symptoms of pelvic pain and findings during a physical examination performed by your doctor. However they can not give a definitive diagnosis, ultrasounds can be used to rule out other causes of pelvic pain, but still are only an indication not a diagnosis.
Laparoscopy is the most common surgical procedure for diagnosis of endometriosis. During a laparoscopy biopsies can be taken to confirm the presence of endometrial cells. Pelvic ultrasounds and laparoscopies are also important in ruling out other health problems (such as ovarian cancer) that can cause symptoms that mimic endometriosis.
Many women find discussing problems of a personal nature, particularly when their symptoms are impacting on their sex life, very difficult.
Consultant Gynaecologist Mr Richards Slade advised “women with symptoms of abnormal vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain should in the first instance should consult their GP who will be able to make an initial diagnosis with the aid of a simple blood test and ultrasound. If a tentative diagnosis of endometriosis is made then a referral to a gynaecologist may be beneficial who is likely to perform a laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis. Further management will be determined after that although surgical treatment can be performed at the time of laparoscopy.”
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