MARCH is Endometriosis Awareness Month and a campaign is underway to raise awareness of the painful condition.
Despite affecting one in ten women worldwide, it takes on average eight years to get a diagnosis.
With endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
However, it can present in different ways from person to person, hence why it’s challenging for doctors to diagnose.
Common symptoms which suggest endometriosis include cyclical pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, or pain leading up to and during periods. A change in bowel habit, tiredness, and difficulty conceiving can also be common symptoms, so it is important to seek medical advice early.
Anyone who suspects they’re a sufferer is advised to keep a pain and symptom diary, specifically noting down when you experience symptoms concerning your periods, whether they are getting worse, and how they affect your daily activities.
Simple measures can help alleviate discomfort, including heat, gentle exercise, pain relief or hormonal medication.
Surgery is another option but for some, it may not be possible to cure endometriosis, and treatments depend on the type and location and how severe it is. Treatment can include medications such as the contraceptive pill, the Mirena coil and/or surgery. In some cases, a mixture of different treatments is needed.
As endometriosis is stimulated by oestrogen, liver and digestive care through nutrition is important. Eating lots of green vegetables and anti-inflammatory foods, as well as reducing caffeine and alcohol intake can have an impact on symptoms. Fish oil supplements and Vitamin B12 can help endometriosis-associated pain. Also, exercising regularly can be beneficial.
Gynaecologist Dr Shree Datta, who works with Intimina UK, advises people to speak up and said: “Endometriosis symptoms vary from person to person. Sometimes it takes a lot of time for people to acknowledge they have a medical condition and seek professional help. It can be uncomfortable speaking to a doctor about intimate health issues for many, but an open and honest relationship is crucial for getting the correct diagnosis.
“Millions of people have endometriosis, so educating the public and fighting this taboo is the way to help them speak up and get diagnosed sooner.”
To mark awareness month, Intimina have released a film called The Wait to highlight the eight year wait faced by many. It can be viewed on YouTube.
Commenting on that, Dr Datta added: “It’s heart-breaking to hear that people still suffer in silence when we can support them and provide them treatment to help them through their symptoms – so please come and see us if you have a problem.”
For more information about endometriosis or support, visit www.endometriosis-uk.org.