Endometriosis Awareness Month

Enriching Health Medical Blog

A common disease, sometimes with severe symptoms, and a 6.5 year average diagnosis delay.

Dr Tina Sutton writes for Endometriosis Awareness Month.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

Endometriosis is a condition affecting girls, women, and those assigned female at birth, where the tissue that lines the uterus, called the endometrium, also develops and grows in other places.

This tends to occur in the abdominal cavity – on the bowel, bladder or ovaries but it can also occur in other places.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary, and can include:

  • Very painful periods
  • Abdominal, lower back and pelvic pain
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Pain with bowel movements and urination
  • Infertility in some cases

The pain can be severe, significantly impacting quality of life, including capacity to work, study, and participate in everyday activities. Conversely, some women have
minimal pain.

Diagnosis

Definitive diagnosis of endometriosis requires a laparoscopy but many women will be diagnosed and managed based on history, examination and in some cases, a specialist ultrasound or other imaging.

Treatment and Management

There is no simple cure for endometriosis, but there are ways we can help through medication, surgery, and other allied health and alternative management strategies.

Medical management of endometriosis usually involves:

  • Pain medication such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, mefenamic acid or naproxen
  • Hormonal medication to suppress or manage your period such as the combined contraceptive pill or a Mirena IUD (amongst others).

These hormonal medications decrease the pain associated with periods and also suppress the progression of endometriosis.

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues (GnRHa) are another type of medication that are sometimes used to stop ovulation and the production of ovarian hormones, thereby creating a temporary and reversible menopause.

Surgery can be used for diagnostic purposes and to remove deposits of endometriosis in areas outside the uterus. In rare circumstances, a hysterectomy may be performed. 

Other management strategies can include: exercise; meditation and mindfulness; heat packs; psychological support and physiotherapy.

Management of endometriosis often benefits from a team approach.

Depending on the symptoms experienced by the patient, the team may include a combination of:

  • a GP with an interest in Women’s Health
  • Gynaecologist
  • Fertility specialist
  • Pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Pain specialist
  • Complementary medicine practitioner

More Resources

More support resources can be found online at:

www.endozone.com.au

www.endometriosisaustralia.org

Concerns to discuss?

Dr Tina Sutton is a GP with special interest in Women’s Health and Endometriosis. If you have concerns, or symptoms that you would like to discuss, appointments are available.
Dr Tina Sutton seated at her desk.
Dr Tina Sutton BSc(Hons), BMBS, FRACGP