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What is endometriosis

Sometimes period pain that is affecting your daily life significantly can be a symptom of a condition called endometriosis. 

Endometriosis (pronounced en-doh-mee-tree-oh-sis) is when tissue similar to the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) grows on organs and structures in the body. 

The endometriosis tissue that grows forms superficial patches and lesions in response to reproductive hormones, causing inflammation and adhesions (scar tissue). There are three different types of endometriosis:

Endometriosis is a significant condition

*Endometriosis studies and research have only been conducted on women, but it is a condition that affects people of all genders and sexes

Symptoms of endometriosis?

There are many different symptoms of endometriosis and you do not need to have all of them to have endometriosis but the more symptoms you have, the more likely you have endometriosis.

 

Endometriosis is difficult to recognise and diagnose because people experience a wide range of symptoms that present with various configurations, plus symptoms can also be similar to many other conditions.  

Read more about other conditions endometriosis can be mistaken for + 

​The most common symptoms of endometriosis include: 

  • pain that interferes with your life around the time of your menstrual period (dysmenorrhoea)

  • pain during or after intercourse (dyspareunia)

  • pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs

  • pain during or around the time of ovulation

  • painful urination (dysuria)

  • fertility problems

  • rectal pain

  • problems with the bowel such as painful bowel movements, a bloated abdomen, constipation, or diarrhoea (often cyclical)

  • constant tiredness

  • depression, mood disturbances, PMS

  • premenstrual spotting

  • immune system issues

  • painful smear tests

Who can have endometriosis?

People of all backgrounds and ages can have endometriosis, including teenagers. Endometriosis affects those of reproductive age, and can also occur before puberty, post-menopause, and in those who have had their uterus removed.

 

Those with endometriosis and/or immune disorders in their family may be more likely to develop endometriosis.

 

It is a condition that can get worse over time and with each menstrual period.

Where does endometriosis grow?

Endometriosis has been found in every part of the female human body and in some instances in males.

Endometriosis is not a menstrual disease because it can happen with or without a uterus. It is a whole-body disease, not a gynaecological or woman's disease.

 

Organs that are close to the uterus are more often affected by endometriosis such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic lining, bowel, bladder, rectum, pouch of douglas, and appendix.

What causes endometriosis?

There are four different types of endometriosis that may be caused in different ways and therefore may require different treatments. The treatment you may receive from your medical professionals may depend on what theory they believe about the cause of endometriosis.

The cause of endometriosis is not well understood with many theories but no medical agreement. The endocrine (hormonal) and immune systems are thought to be involved. 

Read more about the theories + 

Types of endometriosis

There are three types of endometriosis, as well as adenomyosis (endometriosis within the uterus)
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What do you do if you suspect endometriosis?

Everyone experiences symptoms of endometriosis and pain differently. If you suspect you have endometriosis it's a good idea to track your symptoms for 2-3 months and then talk to your GP or gynaecologist that specialises in endometriosis for a diagnosis. 

If you have private medical insurance you can refer yourself to see a gynaecologist in private practice.

A symptom diary can be useful to track pain, and other symptoms, their severity, and the effect on your life - as well as medicines you are taking, any lifestyle changes you have made (such as nutrition, exercise, pain/stress management), and complementary therapies you have tried.

 

A symptom diary can reveal trends and the effectiveness of different strategies which will give you and your health professionals valuable information in reaching a diagnosis. It will also add to your feeling of control and your overall sense of well-being. 

You can use an app, make notes on your phone, or track things on paper. 

Here are a range of tools that can help you track your symptoms:

Join us in our mission to empower people with endometriosis and improve the lives of thousands in Aotearoa New Zealand

We rely on the support of our community to provide the resources and support that people with endometriosis need. There are many ways to get involved and make a difference, from making a donation to volunteering your time.

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