March is, and what better way to celebrate this than by getting to know the facts about endometriosis and how it can be handled. Endometriosis has popularly been called an ‘invisible disease’ as many are just not aware that they have the condition. Recent statistics reveal that close to 200 million women across the globe suffer from this condition. As a common cause of infertility in women, it is a painful condition that requires close monitoring and immediate treatment if detected.
Endometriosis – The Facts
Endometriosis is a condition where the normal endometrium is located and implanted at parts of the body other than the inner aspect of the womb. Most women who develop this condition are unaware that they have it. However, in those who have symptoms, typical symptoms include painful periods, heavy bleeding, lower abdominal pain, pain in the groin and pain in the pelvic region. 1 in 3 to 4 women will have low levels of fertility. Clinical examination of patients is usually normal.
How will I know if I have endometriosis?
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, it is worth while seeing a registered medical practitioner to undergo a clinical examination and relevant tests. Tests such as a diagnostic laparoscopy may be performed in order to determine where the endometrial tissue is located. Common site include the ovaries, broad ligament, utero-sacral ligament and in the lower end of the colon.
Once the abnormal endometrium is located, a sample is taken and examined in a pathology lab for confirmation. Additional tests such as a blood count, haemoglobin and cervical stain for bacteria will be conducted. An ultrasound scan of the womb and pelvis may be able to provide valuable information.
How can it be treated?
Treatments include medical and surgical treatments. The use of combined oral contraceptive pills is well recognised as an effective treatment. Other hormonal treatments are also useful and can help control the abnormal bleeding. Medical therapy is very effective in treating pain but is not particularly good in preventing infertility.
If the symptoms persist or are severe, then patients may be subject to surgical treatments. A conservative approach may be observed in patients who wish to start a family. Other approached involve removal of the womb with or without the ovaries.
What about the future?
As previously mentioned, around 40% of women with endometriosis will have low fertility levels. Mortality from endometriosis is next to nothing, though morbidity from complications can occur and must be borne in mind. Having a reminder about the condition is most certainly beneficial.
Setting a reminder
Remembering that you have endometriosis can help guide individuals treating you if you suffer from other clinical conditions, especially when being treated for any sort of medical emergency. Using medical ID bracelets such as the Endometriosis wristbands and endometriosis jewellery can help. Endometriosis bracelets are also a useful way of keeping important information about your condition at your fingertips. With National Endometriosis Month upon us, there is no better time to get these sorted.