Published: 21 January 2021
Published: 21 January 2021
An Australian study conducted this year found that:
(AIHW 2019; Endometriosis Australia 2019a)
Endometriosis Australia (2019a) provides the following definition: 'Endometriosis is present when the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) occurs outside this layer and causes pain and/or infertility.'
The cause of endometriosis is not entirely clear.
The dominant theory is that during menstruation, menstrual tissue (comparable to lining in the womb) passes back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis, where it attaches and grows (The Royal Women’s Hospital 2014; Endometriosis Australia 2019a).
People who have endometriosis often report experiencing crippling pain. It has the potential to impact a person’s relationships; their capacity to work and study; physical health; and mental wellbeing (Queensland Health 2019).
Endometriosis has the ability to affect the:
(Queensland Health 2019)
Endometriosis appears to run in families. If a person’s mother has endometriosis, it is more likely they will develop it too (The Royal Women’s Hospital 2014).
Endometriosis is sometimes found in people who are not able to fall pregnant. In a small sample of these people, scar tissue caused by endometriosis is blocking the fallopian tubes (The Royal Women’s Hospital 2014).
It is believed that stray endometrial tissue (known as endometrial implants or lesions) continues to behave as it would inside the uterus. It thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because the stray tissue can’t leave the body as normal menstrual blood would, it remains inside the pelvis and causes inflammation (Queensland Health 2019).
While the reasons why certain people experience endometriosis is unclear, there appear to be factors that increase the likelihood of developing it.
(Queensland Health 2019)
A primary symptom of endometriosis is having period pain so severe it stops a person from going about their day-to-day life around or during their period (Endometriosis Australia 2019a).
Other symptoms include:
(The Royal Women’s Hospital 2014; Healthdirect 2019)
People who have endometriosis often report the difficulty of getting their pain under control even after medical intervention, including surgery (Sinclair et al. 2019).
To highlight how severe the pain of endometriosis is, a recent study revealed that among participants aged 18 to 45, the percentage of people who reported using self-management techniques for endometriosis in the past six months was 76% (Sinclair et al. 2019).
These self-management techniques included:
(Sinclair et al. 2019)
In North America, [opioids] (oxycodone and codeine) are often prescribed for endometriosis pain management. Rates of opioid prescription are lower in Australia but are still prominent enough to cause concern. This puts people who experience endometriosis at a high risk of opioid dependence, addiction or overdose (Sinclair et al. 2019).
If someone is experiencing pain with their period, between their periods, during intercourse, or when they open their bowels or use their bladder, it is advised that they see their general practitioner (GP) (Endometriosis Australia 2019b.
If a GP suspects that a patient has endometriosis, they will likely recommend an ultrasound. An ultrasound will often be able to determine whether the patient has lumps (nodules) of endometrium growing around or in the bowel and bladder (The Royal Women’s Hospital 2014).
A laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) is required to make a definitive diagnosis. In laparoscopy, a very small insertion is made in the abdomen and a small sample of tissue is taken. Tests will then confirm the diagnosis. A treatment plan will then be suggested based on the severity of symptoms (The Royal Women’s Hospital n.d.).
Underdiagnosis of endometriosis in society might be due to the following:
(Endometriosis Australia 2019b)
Endometriosis-related pain and infertility is usually treated and managed with medicines or surgery. There is currently no cure for endometriosis (NICHD 2020).
Medicines may include hormone-based treatments such as oral contraceptives, an implant or IUD, and pain relief medicines. As hormones cause endometriosis patches to have a similar cycle to a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormone therapies can be effective when treating endometriosis symptoms. However, not all treatments work for all women and symptoms may return once hormonal treatment is stopped (NICHD 2020).
Surgical treatment aims to remove the presence of endometriosis as much as possible. There are multiple options available. These include:
(Healthdirect 2019; Better Health Channel 2018)
Endometriosis is a painful and unfortunately common condition. It has previously been linked with infertility and can cause a reduction in quality of life.
People who are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis should talk to their GP regardless of whether symptoms are consistent month by month. There are treatments available for people who live with endometriosis.
Question 1 of 3
True or false? From 2016-17 there were around 14,200 endometriosis-related hospitalisations.
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