What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis (pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is the name given to the condition where cells like 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 debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, 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.
Every month a woman’s body goes through hormonal changes. Hormones are naturally released which cause the lining of the womb to increase in preparation for a fertilized egg. If pregnancy does not occur, this lining will break down and bleed – this is then released from the body as a period.
In endometriosis, cells like the ones in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body. These cells react to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleed. However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body. This can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a woman’s life in a number of ways, including:
- Chronic pain
- Fatigue/lack of energy
- Problems with a couple’s sex life/relationships
- An inability to conceive
- Difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments
However, with the right endometriosis treatment, many of these issues can be addressed, and the symptoms of endometriosis made more manageable.
It’s important to remember that:
- Endometriosis is not an infection
- Endometriosis is not contagious
- Endometriosis is not cancer