Endometriosis is an illness that affects 1 in 10 uterus-bearers in reproductive age in the UK. But despite being so prevalent, there is still little research and treatment options for this condition.

You'd think a condition that has been diagnosed to 176 million people worldwide would be taken a bit more seriously but unfortunately, endometriosis is still not a name people recognise, not only in the general public but even amongst health professionals.

This article by The Independent shines a light on the appalling lack of research that is causing people with uteri to go undiagnosed and untreated, despite how common this condition is. In a patriarchal society where women and uterus-bearers are still seen as less important, it makes sense that our needs aren't being met even by the medical community. Many sufferers have been shrugged off by their doctors for having nothing but hysteria or just average menstrual cramps and the majority of companies throughout the world still have no policies whatsoever that allow uterus-bearers to take time off during their periods if they suffer from incapacitating menstrual cramps.

Talking about female health and periods is still a topic avoided even in the media and schools, which causes a lack of awareness about these issues that desperately need to be addressed.

But what exactly is endometriosis?

According to the NHS website, endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (endometrium) is found in other parts of the body, like the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, inside the tummy and in or around the bladder or bowel. Endometriosis is chronic and can be debilitating, causing the sufferer to miss school or work due to severe pain. It can affect people with uteri in reproductive age (since their first period up to their menopause) of any race and ethnicity. After the menopause, the risk of having this disease significantly decreases.


The most common symptoms are:

  • strong persistent menstrual cramps that common painkillers (such as ibuprofen) don't relieve
  • heavy periods, where the bleeding is intense, which requires tampons or pads to be changed more often than other people's
  • pelvic pain, not only during menstruation but at any given moment
  • pain or discomfort during penetrative sexual acts or masturbation

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing endometriosis isn't easy, as the symptoms may vary and there is a number of other conditions that share symptoms with endometriosis, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and some Sexually Transmitted Infections, so the only way to diagnose it is through a procedure called laparoscopy, in which a thin tube is passed through a small cut in the skin.

There is no cure for endometriosis as of yet and the treatment options include birth control pills or surgery to remove the endometrial tissue.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, see your GPD about it or go directly to a gynaecologist. Having menstrual cramps that incapacitate you to the point of missing school or work is not normal and you shouldn't feel embarrassed of your pain. If your doctor dismisses your symptoms, find another professional. Don't rest until you have a diagnosis and treatment options.

Endometriosis is not an STI, it's not cancer and is not life-threatening as it is. However, it is debilitating and life-changing. Endometriosis UK, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the study of this illness in the United Kingdom, estimates 50% of women with this condition may have difficulty getting pregnant and some may be infertile, depending on where these endometrial tissues are. There are other options for people with endometriosis to have children, such as in vitro fertilisation.

Here you can find an online community for sufferers of endometriosis where you can connect with others with the same illness to exchange tips on how to deal with the pain or just to vent. Note that the users aren't specialised doctors and this community does not, by any means, replace actual medical advice.

Whether you have endometriosis or any other reproductive health issue, know that you're not alone and you can get help.


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