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Expert insight: Gynaecologist tells us when you should seek advice about possible Endometriosis

 

Do you ever wonder whether what you experience during your period is normal? Things such as extreme pain, severe bloating and bowel problems are not normal and can be a sign of something more serious. Our consultant gynaecologist tells us when you should seek advice about possible Endometriosis.

 
Talking about menstrual health is so important. It’s the only way we can find out whether what we are experiencing is normal or not. We are led to believe that periods are painful and uncomfortable. Bleeding is normal, but the excessive and debilitating pain is not. Does this sound familiar? Read on to hear when our gynaecologist believes you should seek advice from your GP.

 

Are your periods particularly painful?

 
Many women suffer from period pain, also known as dysmenorrhoea. However, the hallmark of endometriosis is excessive pain which can be debilitating. Women who are affected may be unable to carry out normal daily activities such as going to work. Period pain is often a much greater problem than the heaviness of the flow. Heavy periods are not necessarily a symptom of endometriosis. A combination of severe pain and light periods is highly suggestive of endometriosis. If you fall into this category and the symptoms have persisted for more than three months then you should see your GP.

 

Do you experience pain during intercourse?

 
Deep pain (dyspareunia) during intercourse is another classical sign of endometriosis. This is different to the pain or discomfort which some women experience due to vaginal dryness, thrush or other vaginal conditions.  Sufferers describe it as “burning” and “stabbing” in nature. They typically experience pain in the region above the pubic bone towards the lower back.  If you have similar symptoms for several months then you should see your GP

 

Do you experience severe bloating and general discomfort around the time of your period?

 
These are common symptoms at the time of a monthly period. However, they are usually much more exaggerated in endometriosis sufferers. The symptoms usually settle during the rest of the month so are quite distinct from other causes of this type of problem, including IBS.

 

Do you suffer from bowel symptoms such as bleeding around the time of your period?

 
More severe cases of endometriosis can also affect the bowel. They can cause symptoms such as fresh rectal bleeding and pain on opening your bowels. These are usually worse around the time of your period. If these symptoms are clearly cyclical and resolve at other times of the month then this could be due to endometriosis.

 

Is there a family history of endometriosis?

 
There is conclusive evidence that endometriosis is genetically inherited. If your mother, sister or other female members are affected, your own risks are increased. If in doubt, ask your GP for advice.

 

Are you struggling to get pregnant?

 
Endometriosis is one of the commonest causes of female subfertility. However, it is often missed due to the length of time it can take to diagnose endometriosis (7.5 years on average in the UK). If the endometriosis affects the ovaries and fallopian tubes the risk of infertility is much greater.

 
If you have regular periods and ovulation tracking tests confirm ovulation, but you experience any of the symptoms outlined above, then endometriosis is a definite possibility. It is advised that you should seek medical advice if this is the case. Medical and surgical treatments can be successful. So, if you have suspected endometriosis, press for an earlier referral to a specialist Endometriosis or Fertility Clinic.

 
A big thank you to Ms Anne Henderson for this helpful blog! If any of these symptoms sound familiar and have persisted for more than 3-months then please consult your GP for advice. If you have any further questions about endometriosis, take a look at this blog, where our gynaecologist answers 6 questions you may have about endometriosis.

Photo cred: Ghost Presenter

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