What do celebrities Halsey (pictured above), Chrissy Teigen, Whoopi Goldberg and Lena Dunham all have in common? They all live with endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that affects around 10% of women anywhere from the age of 15 and up. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus, often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other areas of the pelvis. This tissue can cause scarring, pain, and fertility problems.
Even though it is one of the most common gynaecological diseases, endometriosis (sometimes nicknamed “endo”) often goes undetected for years because the tummy pain associated with the condition is mistaken for period cramps, or because there may be no symptoms.
For people who do experience endometriosis symptoms, they might include:
Frequent pelvic pain: Many people with endometriosis experience chronic (recurring) pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, and lower back, particularly during their period. The pain may be severe and can disrupt daily activities.
Painful periods: Endometriosis can cause painful periods, or dysmenorrhea, which may be described as cramping, throbbing, or sharp pain.
Pain with intercourse: Some people with endometriosis may experience pain during or after sexual intercourse, also called dyspareunia.
Infertility: Endometriosis can cause scarring and damage to the reproductive organs, making it difficult to get pregnant. However, not everyone with endometriosis is infertile, and many people with the condition have successful pregnancies.
Other symptoms: Other symptoms of endometriosis may include fatigue, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea, especially during your period.
If you think you may have endometriosis, it is important to see a gynaecologist for an evaluation - ask your GP for a referral. Endometriosis can be diagnosed through a physical exam, medical history, and imaging tests such as an ultrasound or laparoscopy.
Treatment options for endo vary depending on the severity of the condition as well as your symptoms and fertility goals. Treatment may include medications to manage pain and reduce inflammation, hormone therapies to slow down the growth of endometrial tissue, and surgery to remove the endometrial tissue.
It is important to work with your medical team to find the treatment plan that is best for you. Coping with a chronic condition like endometriosis can be challenging, and it may be helpful to seek support from friends, family, and support groups.
Support for endometriosis
Here are a few support groups where you can speak to other people experiencing endo.
QENDO organisation and app
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.
Image credit: Glenn Francis, Creative Commons.
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.