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Endometriosis: Recognising The Symptoms

Mollie Homer, Reporter

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Endometriosis has been labelled the ‘silent epidemic’ affecting one in 10 women across Australia, with many failing to recognise the symptoms.

Endometriosis is caused when the abnormal growth of tissue found in the uterus starts developing in other places such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and bladder.

These growths lead to issues such a bowel and bladder problems, great pain and discomfort and even infertility.

The chronic disease is as common as asthma and diabetes, but many women fail to recognise the signs or be diagnosed for years.

On average, it takes seven to 10 years for endometriosis to be diagnosed, generally by keyhole surgery or a specific ultrasound.

There is no cure, though surgery can relieve the symptoms and some women may require a hysterectomy.

Dr Susan Evans from the Pelvic Pain Foundation told the ABC “There is no area of medicine that feels completely trained to cover all the aspects of a woman with endometriosis’s care. It’s up to women … to learn themselves to recognise what’s happening.”

Like many others, 24-year-old Chelsea Rochelle was diagnosed after having a laparoscopy.  The early signs of the disease were overlooked as she believed what she was experiencing to be normal. “I put up with it for longer than I should have,” she told ECU Daily.

While various doctors she’d initially seen had offered advice and support, she felt most didn’t know much about the condition. “Finding a treatment that I was happy with was, and is, the tricky part. I’ve tried finding a pill that would minimise the symptoms, but have not found one and don’t think I ever will!”

According to the ABC,  last year the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) allocated over $78.8 million to both asthma and diabetes research, $14.7 million to asthma and $64.1 million to diabetes, while endometriosis was given just $837, 000.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain (worse than normal period pain, that can accord anytime during one’s cycle)
  • Vaginal bleeding (irregular, prolonged or heavier)
  • Unusual bowel and bladder movements (painful when passing 1 and 2s, diarrhoea/ constipation, bleeding from the bottom. These signs are experienced by those with tissue growing on this area)
  • Tiredness
  • Bloating
  • Infertility (about 40% of infertile women have endometriosis in some stage)

For more information about treatment and diagnostic visit the ABC health page here.

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Endometriosis: Recognising The Symptoms