Intense pain during periods, when urinating or during sexual intercourse, often associated with difficulty conceiving a baby … this is the unfortunate lot of women who suffer from endometriosis.
This is a recurring condition in which endometrial-like cells appear and flourish outside the uterus. These are cells which normally form the lining of the womb, and when a woman has a period they bleed and form lesions, adhesions and cysts.
At least 10% to 15% of women worldwide suffer from endometriosis. In these patients, fragments of the endometrium (lining of the womb) migrate via the Fallopian tubes to other organs of the pelvic cavity such as the peritoneum, the ovaries, the bladder, the rectum and the colon.
The nodules, cysts, lesions and other adhesions that develop with each menstrual cycle often result in pain and can lead to infertility.
However, the intensity of the pain and the difficulty conceiving are not necessarily proportional to the size of the lesions.
The origins of this condition still remain a mystery. And there is no cure as such. Treatment is aimed at targeting pain and dealing with infertility.
Methods used on a case by case basis include taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, continuous use of the contraceptive pill to stop periods occurring and inducing an artificial menopause.
Nodules and adhesions can be surgically removed by celioscopy … although these can always reappear.
However, recently there has been an interesting new development: a treatment is now available to help counteract the secondary effects of the artificial menopause.
There are three main indicators that lead doctors to consider endometriosis as a diagnosis: menstrual pain, infertility and dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse).