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My Body

Endometriosis

Endometriosis can affect anyone who has started their period.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 people born female.  Cells like those found in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body.  These cells behave the same way as the womb lining and so every month they build up, then break down and bleed. Unlike the lining of the womb (which leaves through the vagina as a period), these cells don’t have anywhere to go when they break down, leaving them trapped inside the body.

This can lead to symptoms such as: pain in the lower back or abdomen, painful and heavy periods, painful sex, pain when peeing or pooing, and feeling sick or constipated. In some cases, endometriosis can lead to infertility.

Can you treat endometriosis?

The exact cause of endometriosis is currently not known and there isn’t a cure yet, but there is treatment available. Treatment can involve hormonal contraception, painkillers or surgery to remove the cells.  Everyone will experience endometriosis differently and so no one method of treatment is better than any other. On average, it takes 7.5 years between first symptoms and diagnosis.

While some period pain is normal, if your periods are causing you so much pain you can’t move then you should ask someone (like a parent, carer, or doctor) for help. 

You might want to talk to family members to see how they experience their menstrual cycle.  On the Endometriosis UK website you can also find a pain and symptom diary which can help you track your symptoms before you see your GP. Painful periods don’t mean you definitely have endometriosis but talking to somebody means you can get the help and support you need to manage your periods.

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