What is endometriosis? 

The symptoms

Endometriosis is a disease where cells similar to those in the lining of the womb (endometrium) start to grow in other places, for instance in the pelvis, abdomen or even the chest cavity.

These cells are stimulated by hormones in the body and 'menstruate' once a month, but the blood isn’t able leave the body in the usual way. This can irritate the tissue in the affected area, leading to inflammation, the formation of scar tissue and pain.

It can sometimes infiltrate the bowel, the bladder, and the ureter, block the fallopian tubes and invade the muscle of the womb.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Low mood and chronic tiredness
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
Patient care at The Harley Street Endometriosis Centre HCA UK Patient care at The Harley Street Endometriosis Centre HCA UK

The impact

Endometriosis typically starts from the onset of menstruation until menopause. One in 10 women in the world, and up to 50% of women with infertility, suffer from the disease. Worldwide, endometriosis affects 176 million women, and around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition.

Some women suffer badly from endometriosis, while others might not notice any symptoms. It can affect every aspect of a woman's health from their sex life to their ability to get pregnant, as well as energy levels, emotional wellbeing and overall quality of life.

According to research, it takes on an average of 7.5 years from the onset of symptoms to the diagnosis in the UK. This could be to do with a lack of awareness of endometriosis in both the general population, the medical profession, or both.

Your diagnosis

If you’re referred to us with suspected endometriosis, we’ll always aim to give you a diagnosis within days. If the diagnosis is confirmed, we’ll offer you different options for treatment, taking into consideration your individual circumstances and symptoms.

We’ll carry out a detailed clinical assessment of your symptoms, including an examination by our consultant gynaecologist, high-resolution ultrasound and MRI scans of your pelvis and, in some cases a diagnostic laparoscopy. This is a diagnostic procedure, performed under general anaesthetic, to examine the pelvic region with a small, ultra-high-definition endoscopic camera.

Depending on the results, we may carry out further investigations on other organs which could be affected by the disease.

If you have concerns around fertility, we offer a separate, full assessment alongside other investigations.

Your Diagnosis Your Diagnosis

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