The condition affects up to 10% of women in Ireland - yet many are unaware of the symptoms.
We all know someone who struggles with their periods – be it a sister, daughter, friend or colleague.
You know that woman who goes through hell every month? She has mentioned severe pain in her pelvis and lower back and at times you have even heard her speak about being nauseous due to the pain.
She is likely to have missed days at school/college/work around her period time and at times too during her mid-cycle you have seen her with a hot water bottle and pain meds at her side.
Maybe she has confided in you about how it is impossible to beat this pain – over the counter pain medications are not working for her. She has tried the contraceptive pill and while it helped for a month or two, she is back at square one.
You consoled her when she told you that despite sex being absolutely horrendous, she is still trying to conceive 2 years after beginning to “try”.
She is comforted by the fact that she has support, but cannot get answers for why she is feeling so bad all the time. The pain is relentless, she was too embarrassed to mention the pain she experiences when she pees, and certainly cannot tell you about the bleeding and pain that she has noticed while passing bowel movements.
Surely this is not normal?
If you recognise this woman, she may have endometriosis.
As part of Endometriosis Awareness Month, the Endometriosis Association of Ireland is highlighting the symptoms of the condition as many women may not even be aware that they suffer from it.
The Endometriosis Association of Ireland define the condition as the presence of an endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus, which triggers a chronic inflammatory reaction resulting in pain and adhesions.
Hormone fluctuations during a woman’s menstrual cycle may cause the activity of the condition to vary, with symptoms intensifying at certain times of the month, particularly prior to and during the woman’s menstrual period.
While some women with endometriosis experience severe pelvic pain, others have no symptoms at all or regard their symptoms as simply being ‘ordinary menstrual pain’.
The condition affects up to 1 in 10 women in Ireland, and it is estimated that up to 50% of infertile women struggle with the condition.
Not all women have all (or any) of the symptoms.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Severe pain (pelvis, lower back, thighs) which is worse around ovulation and menstruation
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain during or after emptying the bladder or bowel
- IBS like symptoms (diarrhoea, constipation)
- Blood in urine or stools
- Nausea and Vomiting
Kathleen King, Chairperson of the Endometriosis Association of Ireland lives in Donegal. She has lived with endometriosis for almost 30 years. Like many women in Ireland her diagnosis was not confirmed until 9 years after symptom onset.
The Endometriosis Association of Ireland is there for all affected by endometriosis, and they run an online education and support group.
If you recognise these symptoms please visit www.endometriosis.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.