It’s called a silent disease. Thousands of Australian women know what it’s like to suffer with the symptoms of endometriosis but continue living with the pain and many without a diagnosis or explanation. Sadly, there is currently no cure for endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition. It is an inflammatory disease that is caused when similar lining that grows inside the uterus grows outside the uterus. This endometrial tissue can grow on other organs which include the bowel and bladder. Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose because there is no test available that can diagnose it. The array of presenting symptoms can also be confused with other medical conditions.
Further symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Lower back pain
- Irregular periods
- Pain when urinating and increased frequency
If these signs and symptoms seem familiar to you. Book an appointment with one of our doctors today.
The 4 stages
Endometriosis presents itself in four stages that are graded from I-IV and are determined by the level of scarring or what are referred to as adhesions. These adhesions can range from mild, moderate, or severe in state.
Grade I (mild) – Small amounts of scar tissue around the pelvic region
Grade II (moderate) – Increased size and scale throughout the pelvic cavity with greater adhesions with potential early stages of spreading to the ovaries
Grade III-IV (severe) – The most advanced stages can see all pelvic organs covered as well as in most severe cases to the abdomen and bowel
Endometriosis can sometimes appear on ultrasound, however, this is usually when the disease is in its later stages. Further diagnosis is performed by laparoscopy, which involves the extraction and biopsy of endometriotic tissue. This procedure is executed through keyhole surgery under a general anaesthetic.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis. There are, however, treatment options available to women to reduce pain and symptoms but unfortunately, the symptoms of this disease cannot currently be fully alleviated. Continuing to promote awareness is vital to increase knowledge and understanding of endometriosis. It helps to stimulate further research for a cure or a means of testing that could be used to detect the disease earlier.
Available treatment options for women include the contraceptive pill, an IUD, pain relief or anti-inflammatory medications as well as surgical procedures. The use of an IUD or contraceptive work by reducing the amount of hormones in the body (estrogen and progesterone) which usually accelerate endometriosis. Surgical procedural options include removal of the scar tissue which is called endometrial ablation or scraping; however, the endometrial adhesions can grow back over time.
There are also other alternatives to traditional treatment methods that can help reduce pain. Complementary options include physiotherapy, nutritionists, and psychologists, who can help alleviate endometriosis symptoms with other remedies and therapies that have helped many women that suffer from the disease.
Current research is investigating whether the ‘endo diet’ can help relieve gut issues caused by the disease. It is thought that eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as reducing your caffeine intake can help alleviate gut symptoms.
Living with endometriosis can feel like you are fighting a constant battle. If you have been diagnosed with the disease, there are avenues of support available.
The Endometriosis Australia foundation is a great resource and support system for women suffering from endometriosis. Here you can find more information and keep up to date with news and research. There is also registration for the global event ‘EndoMarch’ and high tea held on March 26th, you can find more about it here.