Endometriosis is a condition that women rarely talk about but thankfully that is beginning to change.
It is estimated that 1.5 million women in the UK suffer from Endometriosis, (one in ten women), suffering unrelenting pain (http://endometriosis-uk.org).
So what is Endometriosis?
“The presence of uterine lining in other pelvic organs, especially the ovaries, characterised by cyst formation, adhesions, and menstrual pains.” (Random House dictionary, 2014)
What are the symptoms?
- Pain during periods
- Pain during ovulation
- Pain during sex
- Irregular periods
- Irritated bladder and bowel (during periods especially)
How is it diagnosed?
If you are concerned about any of the symptoms above it is important that you visit your GP, they can then send you for tests.
There can be indications on blood tests and ultra sounds but the only conclusive way to diagnose Endometriosis is via a laparoscopy, where a camera is inserted into the abdominal cavity via key hole surgery. A sample of the suspected Endometriosis is taken and analysed in a laboratory.
If Endometriosis is confirmed it is usually given a classification between 1 and 4, 1 being minimal and 4 being severe.
How is it treated?
Once Endometriosis has been diagnosed via laparoscopy it is removed during the same surgery, however, it is important to remember that the trauma of the surgery can cause scar tissue and more Endometriosis can form in that area. Endometriosis often reoccurs and the removal of the tissue and cysts is for symptomatic relief.
The drug treatments are either hormonal or pain relief based, again these are for symptomatic relief. For more information visit http://endometriosis-uk.org/endometriosis-treatment.
Possible complementary treatments
Acupuncture has been found to relieve pain for some people, but remember to visit a member of the British Acupuncture Association.
Endometriosis Diet – anti-inflammatory based diets have been found to reduce pain in Endometriosis sufferers by reducing in the inflammation and pressure within the abdomen.
Gentle exercise has been found to be helpful as an increase in pelvic circulation can reduce inflammation and pain. Always remember to only do as much as you feel able and mention your condition to the session leader if you are concerned.
Examples include; Tai Chi, yoga, pilates, swimming, and walking
Herbal medicine – There are many research studies showing the fantastic anti inflammatory effects of herbs such as Frankincense, Turmeric, Baical skullcap and feverfew. Many herbal medicine companies sell pre prepared anti-inflammatory capsules containing mixtures of the herbs listed.
Always remember to check there are no interactions between any medication you are taking and any herbs you try. If you are ever unsure contact a medical herbalist before taking anything.
Herbal medicine can offer a more holistic approach to the treatment of Endometriosis, taking into account each person individually and tailoring a medicine to their individual requirements, but the main aims will be to reduce pain and inflammation, improve circulation to the area, regulate hormones, and improve energy.
If you are considering herbal medicine please speak to a medical herbalist, even if you do not want to commit to a consultation they can often offer free advice. To find a medical herbalist near you, visit The National Institute of Medical Herbalist’s website.
Further information sheets are available to download for free from the Endometriosis-uk website.
If you know someone with endometriosis please pass on this information.