Endometriosis – facts

Demystifying some myths and misconceptions about endometriosis.

Endometriosis is when tissue resembling the endometrium (lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus. It affects about 10% of girls and women of reproductive age around the world.

It's a long-term condition associated with a range of symptoms including:

  • pain (eg, during periods, sexual intercourse, bowel movements and/or urination)
  • abdominal bloating
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • infertility.

Each woman can experience it differently in terms of the range and severity of symptoms she has. 

Image: Canva

A lack of awareness of what endometriosis is, combined with a general belief that many of the symptoms are “normal”, often results in a long delay between when a woman first experiences symptoms and when she is diagnosed and begins treatment. 

A number of myths or beliefs exist around endometriosis and, to counter these myths, here are 5 facts about it.

1. Severe period pain isn't normal

Period (menstruation) pain bad enough to interfere with your daily life (eg, going to school or work, or taking part in day-to-day activities) is not normal. You should seek help from your healthcare provider and ask about what's causing your pain.

2. Teenagers aren't too young to have endometriosis

Teenagers and young women in their early 20s are not too young to have endometriosis. In fact, most women experience symptoms during adolescence but, unfortunately, don’t get diagnosed and treated until they are in their 20s or 30s. Endometriosis can start as early as a girl's first period.

3. Hormonal treatments don't cure endometriosis

Hormonal treatments, such as the combined oral contraceptive pill, medroxyprogesterone acetate or norethisterone, temporarily ease symptoms of endometriosis, but only while the medications are being taken. Once you stop taking the medications, symptoms can often return.

4. Endometriosis does not equal infertility

Many young women are given the impression that having endometriosis will mean they will be infertile (unable to conceive a baby). While this may be the case, many women with endometriosis do go on to have children.

5. Pregnancy doesn't cure endometriosis

Pregnancy, like hormonal drug treatments, may temporarily stop the symptoms of endometriosis, but doesn't cure it – symptoms usually recur after the birth of the baby.

Read more about endometriosis.

References

  1. Facts about endometriosis Endometriosis.org, US
  2. Endometriosis WHO, 2021
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.