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It may come as no surprise to you to learn that 1 in 10 women and girls (after their periods have started) have endometriosis.
When you reflect back on school days you will remember those girls that seemed to have had such bad period pains that they had to take time off school every month.
Statistically that would mean that out of every class at school there would be one or two students (or perhaps three in a single sex school) who had endometriosis.
Unfortunately, it can take quite a long time from when the symptoms start to being diagnosed. In teenagers the average time from onset to diagnosis is 22.8 months (Dun et al, 2015)
This is partly because there is no simple test such as blood tests or scans that can be performed to work out whether endometriosis is present. The only sure way is through laparoscopic surgery with a skilled specialist abdominal surgeon.
Often symptoms can be quite confusing as some women and girls get pain during their periods but some get pain between their periods too. Some women get problems with their intestines, bladder pain, pain with sexual intercourse and fatigue. Unfortunately, sometimes endometriosis leads to infertility.
Endometriosis occurs when implants that look like the tissue that lines the uterus (womb) grows outside the uterus. It is thought that these implants can originate from the lining of the uterus or can arise from tissues and mechanisms other than the uterus.
The mucous membrane tissue of the womb(uterus) sheds monthly. The endometrial implants outside the uterus are surrounded by blood and inflammation. This inflammation then forms scar tissue between the organs of the abdomen.
In addition to the endometriosis implants being sited within the pelvis, they can also be around the diaphragm (sheet of muscle under your lungs) of some women.
There is another condition called adenomyosis which is where the lining of the uterus invades the muscle wall of the uterus causing an enlarged uterus. There is no relationship between adenomyosis and subfertility.
Over the next few days we will be posting two more blogs about endometriosis, one on what you can do to help yourself if you have been diagnosed with endometriosis and one on what to do to prepare for and do after abdominal laparoscopic surgery.