Next week is Endometriosis Awareness Week (2-9th March) so we thought it would be a useful exercise to educate the Cycler community about the condition so you all know what to look out and are able to can keep a check on your health.
First, let’s start with the basics. Your endometrium is the lining of blood that builds up on the uterine walls every cycle due to your bodies natural hormonal changes. If no egg implants into the endometrium, it will break down and become your period. However, if it is fertilised, the endometrium grows thicker and protects and nourishes the growing foetus.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is where the lining of blood is also found outside your uterus. Areas that are most commonly involved are your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis.
During the menstruation stage of your cycle, endometriosis cells react similarly to your healthy endometrial cells because hormones also stimulate them to grow, break down and bleed. This therefore causes internal bleeding that can lead to irritation, inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue (adhesions). Learn more here.
- 10% of women worldwide have endometriosis – that’s 176 million worldwide (Ref. 1)
- The prevalence of endometriosis in women with infertility be as high as to 30–50%.2 (Ref. 2)
- On average it takes 7.5 years from onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis. (Ref. 3)
- The cause of endometriosis is unknown.
- Currently, there is no way of preventing endometriosis but there are ways of managing symptoms and the disease.
Symptoms of endometriosis vary during the menstrual cycle, where they are often worse on the days before and during your period.
Endometriosis symptoms include:
If you have a combination of these symptoms it is important that you book an appointment with your GP for a check-up right away.
Rogers PA, D’Hooghe TM, Fazleabas A, et al. Priorities for endometriosis research: recommendations from an international consensus workshop. Reprod Sci 2009;16(4):335-46.
Meuleman C, Vandenabeele B, Fieuws S, Spiessens C, Timmerman D, D’Hooghe T. High prevalence of endometriosis in infertile women with normal ovulation and normospermic partners. Fertil Steril 2009;92(1):68-74.
Diagnosis Survey. Endometriosis UK. February 2011.