Causes & Treatment

Five Misconceptions About Endometriosis, Debunked

Eloise Edington  |   28 Feb 2022

At Fertility Help Hub, we know how common misconceptions are in the spaces of fertility and women’s health, particularly when it comes to conditions impacting female fertility.

As part of Endometriosis Awareness Month this March, we’re looking at common misconceptions around endometriosis.  During recent years, endometriosis has been a hot topic for raising awareness and debunking misconceptions on the condition.  Campaigners and medical professionals have worked hard to educate people on signs, symptoms and treatment of endometriosis (read more here) and whilst huge progress has been made, 54% of people still don’t know what endometriosis is (Endometriosis UK).

Amongst the 46% of people who do know what endometriosis is, many believe that a diagnosis of this condition is a fertility sentence.  It’s not.  However, up to 50% of those with endometriosis may find it difficult to get pregnant and some may decide to have fertility treatment.

Read on to discover the truth behind five misconceptions about endometriosis.

By Holly Pigache

Firstly, what is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition whereby tissue (similar to that which is in the womb) starts to grow elsewhere in the body, such as in a woman’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder or bowel.  Like the cells inside the uterus, the cells within this tissue also bleed with the menstrual cycle.  However, when these cells bleed outside of the uterus, blood cannot leave the body which can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.

Many women with endometriosis can have very painful and heavy periods, so it’s common for endometriosis to go undiagnosed for years or even be misdiagnosed as “just” painful periods.

But there are other symptoms that distinguish endometriosis from painful periods, such as pain and bleeding when a woman isn’t on her period and pain during sex.

Like many conditions, sufferers of endometriosis have a spectrum of experiences; approximately a quarter of people with endometriosis don’t know they have it whilst other women find themselves in agony and unable to get out of bed.

Endometriosis can also cause secondary symptoms such as chronic pain, blacking out, depression, isolation, fatigue, problems in a woman’s relationships or sex life and fertility complications (Endometriosis UK).

Don’t miss FHH’s IG Live with Dr Smikle from Laurel Fertility Care on 17th March – 8PM UK time, 12PM PST.

How common is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common condition that affects 1 in 10 women in the UK and USA and approximately 200 million worldwide (Endometriosis March).

When we spoke to our Instagram community, 41% said they have endometriosis (follow us here).

Misconception 1: Endometriosis is easy to diagnose.

Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for years because it can only be diagnosed for certainty through surgery.  To diagnose endometriosis, a small camera is inserted into the abdomen (under general anaesthetic) to see the existence (or extent) of the tissue growth.  This is the only way to diagnose endometriosis and the procedure is called a laparoscopy.

Misconception 2: Endometriosis causes infertility.

Endometriosis does not cause infertility and getting pregnant with endometriosis is not impossible.  Approximately 35-50% of women with endometriosis will struggle with fertility issues but not all will need fertility treatment to conceive.

Misconception 3: Pregnancy can cure endometriosis.

Some doctors are still recommending women suffering from endometriosis to get pregnant.  With up to half of sufferers also experiencing fertility issues, this isn’t helpful advice.  Moreover, whilst pregnancy can alleviate some of the symptoms, after birth, endometriosis symptoms tend to recur.

Misconception 4: Surgery can cure endometriosis.

Whilst the only way to remove the scar tissue formed from endometriosis is through surgery, some tissue cannot be reached from surgery and therefore surgery is not a cure.  There is also the possibility that surgery can make endometriosis symptoms worse or the tissue can grow back.

Misconception 5: A hysterectomy can cure endometriosis.

Having surgery to completely remove the uterus won’t necessarily cure endometriosis as it can cause tissue to grow on a woman’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder or bowel.

If you have endometriosis and are worried about struggling to conceive, speak with your fertility specialist about your options.  You can also try conception aids to help you get pregnant – check out our exclusive FHH discounts here.

Join our free, supportive fertility community here to share stories and tips with other people struggling with endometriosis.

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