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What is endometriosis?

Another condition I come across often in my clients is endometriosis.  Endometriosis affects approximately 1.5-2 million women in the UK and occurs when tissue that normally lines the uterus (The Endometrium) grows outside of it, most often around and on the ovaries and fallopian tubes (but it can spread as far as the bowel and bladder), and behaves in the same way as tissue inside the womb.  Each month the tissue builds up and breaks down just like normal endometrial tissue, but as it’s outside of the uterus, there’s nowhere for the blood to go.  This can cause inflammation, pain and scar tissue.

What are its symptoms?

The main symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain and infertility.  Nearly half of those affected have chronic pelvic pain, while in 70%, pain occurs predominantly during menstruation (periods can also be heavy and prolonged and/or irregular). Pain during sex is also common.  Infertility occurs in up to half of women affected.  Less common symptoms include urinary or bowel issues, backache, leg pain and depression.  About 25% of women however, have no symptoms. Endometriosis symptoms can vary in intensity from one woman to another, and the amount of endometriosis does not always correspond to the amount of pain and discomfort experienced.

What causes it?

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but it’s believed that there’s a hereditary element and it’s also known that oestrogen can encourage its growth.  Theories include:

Retrograde menstruation

Genetic predisposition

Lymphatic or circulatory spread

Immune dysfunction

Environmental causes

Metaplasia

What treatment is available?

Currently there is no cure for endometriosis, but there are medical treatment options that can help manage the condition. These include:

Surgery

Pain relief

Hormone treatment

Reflexology may also help those with endometriosis in terms of their feelings of overall well-being, especially where stress and tension appear to exacerbate the symptoms.

Some links you might find helpful:

https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/understanding-endometriosis

http://www.endometriosissupportgroup.co.uk/

http://www.shetrust.org.uk/

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