Demystifying endometriosis: Understanding a misunderstood women’s health issue.

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As Eve Health gynaecologist and advanced laparoscopic surgeon Dr Tal Jacobson explains, Endometriosis affects about 10 percent of the population, yet there are many misconceptions about the disease, which can affect the quality of life for so many women living with it.

Read on to learn more about endometriosis, including some common misconceptions. Also see the end of this article for further Eve Health information links and other resources about endometriosis.

About endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common disease where the tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it in other parts of the body. It induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue. Common symptoms include pelvic pain which can put life on hold, or pain during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Endometriosis can also damage fertility. Other symptoms can include pain during or after sexual intercourse and heavy bleeding, fatigue and bloating, all of which can impact on a woman’s physical, mental and social well being. While endometriosis most often affects the reproductive organs, it is frequently found in the bowel and bladder. It has also very rarely been found in muscle, joints, the lungs and the brain.

Difficulties diagnosing endometriosis

In Australia, about one million girls and women suffer with endometriosis at some point in their lives. The disease often starts as a teenager. Because the symptoms can overlap with other conditions like irritable bowel disease and a belief that period pain is normal, there may be a significant delay of 7-10 years to obtain a diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Eve Health gynaecologists have specific skills and experience in managing the wide range of conditions associated with endometriosis and work within a multidisciplinary team that can offer the range of care required.

Treatment of endometriosis

The gold standard for diagnosing the disease is through a keyhole surgical procedure called a laparoscopy. Imaging modalities such as specialised women’s health ultrasound and MRI are helpful. The symptoms of endometriosis can be managed through certain drugs or natural therapies, lifestyle, diet and surgery to remove lesions and scar tissues (success rates are dependent on the surgeon’s skills).

Laparoscopic excision of endometriosis may improve pain symptoms in up to 80% of women but it is not always completely resolved.

Endometriosis facts

Publicly there are many misconceptions about endometriosis. Endometriosis Australia has a helpful list of simple facts about endometriosis. The facts (as of December 2019) are:

  • There is no cure for endometriosis
  • Teenagers are not too young to have endometriosis
  • Hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis
  • Endometriosis cannot be prevented
  • Period pain is not normal
  • Endometriosis does not always cause infertility
  • Getting pregnant will not cure endometriosis
  • Endometriosis can only be correctly diagnosed through surgical intervention
  • Pain levels are not related to the extent of the disease
  • Endometriosis is not an STI. You cannot catch it.

The future for endometriosis research and treatment

Endometriosis research has increased dramatically in the last few years but there is still a lot that unknown about its cause and treatment. There is increasing interest and funding at a State and Government level to support research and treatment.

Further information by Eve Health and endometriosis can be found at the links below.

Other helpful resources:

To learn more about endometriosis in Australia visit Endometriosis Australia.


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