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).