Improving understanding this Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, but it’s a condition that is still largely misunderstood, even by those living with it.

Research from Endometriosis UK has revealed that 54 per cent of people do not know what endometriosis is, jumping to 74 per cent of men. With one in 10 women living with the condition, improved awareness and understanding is needed to ensure everyone can access the care and support they need.

WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?

Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. Each month the cells react in the same way as those in the womb, building up, then breaking down and bleeding.

However, unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body in the form of a period, this blood has no way of escaping. This can lead to inflammation and the formation of scar tissue.

Endometriosis causes chronic pain, leading to painful and heavy periods. It can be debilitating, forcing women and girls to miss work and school, turn down social opportunities and become isolated. It can lead to mental health issues, infertility and fatigue, as well as bowel and bladder problems.

DIAGNOSIS

Receiving a diagnosis can be a long and complex journey, as many of the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. The only way to get a diagnosis is through a laparoscopy – a small incision near the navel that a camera is inserted into, to check for signs of the condition.

There’s currently an average of 7.5 years between women first seeing a doctor about their symptoms and receiving a firm diagnosis. This demonstrates the need for improved healthcare from professionals, as well as further research into the condition, so fewer women have to live with chronic pain.

TREATMENT

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for endometriosis, however there are treatment options that can alleviate pain and symptoms.

Speaking with your GP is the best way to understand the treatment option that will work for you. Different options include surgery, hormone treatment and pain relief. The treatment available will depend on your age, and the severity of your endometriosis as well as your symptoms.

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Why don’t they know what it is? Why don’t they know how to cure it? Could it be to do with a gender healthcare bias? Also probably doesn’t help that “endometriosis” is the longest and most boring word to read. Thank you to @allontheboard for raising awareness about this debilitating disease that affects 1 in 10 women and yet on average takes 7 years to diagnose. Sorry if you have it, thrilled if you don’t and grateful if you’re a supportive partner, friend of family member to someone suffering with this invisible hellmare. I’m lucky because I felt much better after surgery but I know that’s not the case for everyone and may not be the case forever. Sending love to those in pain and thanks to doctors trying to help. ❤️

A post shared by Alexa Chung (@alexachung) on

Many women have spoken out about the condition, including Alexa Chung, Emma Bunton, Louise Redknapp and Lena Dunham, who went on to have a hysterectomy due to the condition.

Endometriosis is a condition that doesn’t discriminate, and any woman or girl can experience it. Speaking to your GP is the first step on the road to treatment, so if you suspect you’re living with endometriosis, book your appointment today.

For more information and support with the condition, visit Endometriosis UK.

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