What is endometriosis?

We treat so many women at Verve who are suffering with all sorts of horrendous menstrual problems, and the thing that fascinates us the most is we often uncover these menstrual problems halfway through the initial consultation!

Rarely do women come to us saying, “I have incredibly painful periods and I want to fix them.” However, they do often come to us saying, “I have acne that I want to fix” or “I want help getting pregnant” or “I’m so exhausted and I want my energy back”.

So, why is the dreaded period not thought about as a main concern in majority of women?

Because we have been taught to get used to it.

We have been taught that it’s normal to have painful periods, and that it’s normal to lose a day or five out of our lives each month to nurse a hot water bottle and sob into an empty packet of Nurofen.

But, it’s not normal. It’s not normal to have painful periods. It’s not normal to have irregular periods. It’s not normal for your life to be dictated by your menstrual cycle.

And, we know it’s because of this engrained belief that it’s normal to suffer for a week each month that women aren’t even noticing the red flags (pun intended) that their period is showing them… red flags like incredible pain, clotting, heavy bleeding, irregular bleeding, pain that shoots down your legs and fatigue that won’t shift.

So, we wanted to have a chat about a really common disease that so often going undiagnosed and undetected due to the fact that women are told that suffering is normal.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disease that affects women, in which the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus, grows outside the womb.  This tissue can attach itself to other parts of the body, including the reproductive organs, bowel, bladder and other organs near your pelvic cavity.  The muscles, lungs, brain and joints can also be affected, though this is uncommon. 10% of women suffer with Endometriosis at some point in their life. It often starts in teenage years. Symptoms vary between women, which is a contributing factor to the current 7 to 10-year delay in diagnosis.

Endometriosis Sign and Symptoms

  • Fatigue

  • Pain that can be debilitating on or around your period (that’s right, ladies – it’s not normal to have to cancel your day due to your period pain!)

  • Pain on or around ovulation (halfway through your cycle)

  • Pain during or after sex

  • Pain with bowel movements

  • Pain when you urinate

  • Pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs (especially pain that radiates/travels to these areas)

  • Having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder, or having to urinate frequently

  • Heavy bleeding (having to change your pad/tampon within 4 hours, flooding)

  • Irregular bleeding (spotting/discharge/bleeding throughout your cycle or having bleeds over 7 days in length)

  • If you can tick many of these symptoms off, then please ask for help!

Some facts about endometriosis

  • Endometriosis can affect women of all ages, including teenagers

  • Endometriosis can’t be prevented

  • Endometriosis is a common cause of infertility, but doesn’t always cause problems with fertility – so, even if you have kids, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of endometriosis!

  • There is no cure for endometriosis at this point in time – and more research is required to understand the developmental aspects of this disease

  • Period pain is not normal

  • A hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis

  • Nor does getting pregnant

  • Pain levels you experience are not related to the extent of damage caused by endometriosis