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Endometriosis: Just the facts

Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to those in the womb grow in other areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the bowel. It can affect individuals of any age who have a menstrual cycle and the cause is not known.

Every month these cells react to the hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle in the same way as cells in the womb, causing them to break down and bleed.

Unlike the cells in the lining in the womb which would leave as a period, these cells have no way to leave the body. This can cause pain and inflammation.

Symptoms of endometriosis

Some people are badly affected by endometriosis, whereas others may not have any noticeable symptoms at all. You should speak to a GP if you have symptoms of endometriosis. These can include:

  • pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
  • period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
  • pain during or after sex
  • pain when peeing or pooing during your period
  • feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
  • fertility could be affected longer term

You may also have heavy periods. You might use lots of pads or tampons, or you may bleed through your clothes.

Treatment and support

There is no cure for endometriosis, but a pharmacist or doctor might recommend treatments to improve your symptoms. Such as:

  • Over the counter painkillers eg. paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken, if the pain doesn’t resolve a GP may be able to prescribe something stronger
  • Hormone medicines and contraceptives
  • Surgery to the areas affected by endometriosis

If you’re finding endometriosis difficult to deal with, support groups such as Endometriosis UK are available. They have an online community for those affected by the condition, and a helpline you can call on 0808 808 2227.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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