Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body.
Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
It is a chronic and often debilitating condition that can cause painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, dyspareunia (painful sex), fatigue and bowel and bladder problems. Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity.
It is not uncommon for symptoms of endometriosis to be ignored and many women have to wait years before a diagnosis is made. Happily this is starting to change. A great place to go to for information and support is at the charity Endometriosis UK.
Over 56% of women who have endometriosis will experience dyspareunia (painful sex). Experiencing pain will cause anxiety which can result in pelvic floor tension and a lack of natural lubrication which means that the dyspareunia can persist even if the primary endometriosis has been treated. Do discuss these symptoms with your GP or Healthcare professional or if you feel you are not being listened to request a referral to a Consultant, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist or Psychosexual Therapist who has experience in this area.
We recommend the wonderful book Private Parts by Eleanor Thom. Part memoir, part guide book and part survival guide, it offers readers practical, down-to-earth and friendly advice. We highly recommend it to anyone struggling to get a diagnosis or who is living with this difficult condition.