What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrium-like tissue grows in locations outside the uterus. These are often called endometriosis implants or lesions.
How common is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis may affect women at any time during the menstruating years (from puberty to menopause). It is estimated that 10 to 15% of women may have this condition.
What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common cause of period pain, chronic pelvic pain and infertility.
The symptoms of endometriosis are quite variable and may fluctuate in severity from time to time in the same person. Both severity and types of symptoms may not correspond to the extent and locations of the disease.
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
Endometriosis can be suspected on the basis of symptoms. Pelvic examination may allow doctors to detect the scar tissues caused by the implants. Ultrasound may show the presence of cysts inside the ovaries (chocolate cysts) which occur in 10% of women with endometriosis.
At the present time, the only way to confirm the presence of and to check for the extent of endometriosis is by laparoscopy. This is a day-only examination in hospital, under general anaesthesia, in which a small telescope introduced through a small incision at the umbilicus allows doctors to directly see endometriosis.
Despite increasing awareness, research has shown that it still takes on average 8 to 9 years from the onset of first symptoms to the time a diagnosis is confirmed. This often means years of unnecessary suffering and delay in appropriate and effective treatments.
Early diagnosis remains the key to successful treatment for endometriosis and prevention of its long term complications.