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Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a very common condition where cells of the lining of the womb (the endometrium) are found elsewhere, usually in the pelvis and around the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes.

It mainly affects women during their reproductive years. It can affect women from every social group and ethnicity. Endometriosis is not an infection and it is not contagious. Endometriosis is not cancer.

Symptoms of endometriosis

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary. Some women are badly affected, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms. Women who do experience symptoms may have one or more conditions.

The main symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea) which do not respond to over-the-counter pain relief. Some women have heavy periods.
  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain which can be long-term
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant or infertility
  • Pain related to the bowels and bladder (with or without abnormal bleeding)
  • Long-term fatigue.

Treatments for endometriosis

There's currently no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms.

Treatments include:

  • painkillers – such as ibuprofen and paracetamol
  • hormone medicines and contraceptives – including the combined pill, the contraceptive patch, an intrauterine system (IUS), and medicines called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRHa) analogues
  • surgery to cut or laser away patches of endometriosis tissue
  • an operation to remove part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis – such as surgery to remove the womb (hysterectomy)

Your doctor will discuss the options with you. Sometimes they may suggest not starting treatment immediately to see if your symptoms improve on their own.
For further information regarding endometriosis and useful contact details of organizations please see the information leaflet.

Mr Swanton is the Gynaecological lead for severe endometriosis surgery at The Royal Berkshire Hospital.

For more information regarding treatment options and choices go to:
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Endometriosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Support Groups:
support@endometriosis-uk.org
www.endometriosis-uk.org

 

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