Endometriosis is a condition where cells like those that line the uterus are found in other parts of the body, mainly in the pelvis and reproductive organs. The cells that grow outside the uterus can begin to form patches that bleed and leak fluid around the time you have your period. This can lead to inflammation, scarring and lumps. This can cause mild to severe pain and may affect your fertility.
Endometriosis affects everyone differently. Pain is a common symptom of this condition. The severity of symptoms is often related to the location of endometriosis, rather than the extent of the disease. It’s common for women to experience a slow and steady progression of symptoms.
Endometriosis can cause different types of pain. For example: painful periods, pain during or after sex, abdominal, lower back and pelvic pain, pain during ovulation, including pain in your thighs or legs, pain when using the toilet, pain that gets worse over time, and pain that stops you from doing things you usually do.
There are a few causes of endometriosis, but if you have a close relative (such as mother or sister) with endometriosis, you are much more likely to develop the condition. Endometriosis can’t be prevented but your chances of developing it may decrease if you have irregular periods, you breastfeed, and if you have progestogen-only contraception (such as the DMPA shot, hormonal IUD and progestogen-only pill).
It can take time to get a diagnosis of endometriosis (sometimes up to 9 years), and this is because symptoms vary, they can change over time, and period pain is accepted as normal. A thorough review of your symptoms, medical history and test results will improve your chances of an early diagnosis, and improve your overall wellbeing through acknowledgement of your symptoms and access to treatment. Speak with your doctor if you think you may have endometriosis.
Adenoymosis is similar to endometriosis in some ways, and can cause painful, heavy periods, chronic pain in the pelvis, pain during sex, bleeding between periods, and infertility. It is caused by cells that line the uterine wall growing in the layer of muscle in the wall of the uterus22. Like endometriosis, it can take time for adenoymosis to be diagnosed. If you have painful or heavy periods, or unusual bleeding or pain when having sex, see your doctor.
For more information and support services, visit:
Here are some links to endometriosis clinics and GPs that specialise in endometriosis care
- Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service
- Neighbourhood Medical (Bardon)