Endometriosis Awareness Month
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness of this disease that affects 1 in 9 Australian women, and many others who are transgender or gender diverse, or remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Raising awareness of endometriosis can help increase early diagnosis, improve treatment options, and reduce the stigma associated with menstrual pain and reproductive health. By speaking openly about endometriosis and advocating for better research and treatment options, we can help ensure that all women receive the care and support they need to manage this challenging condition.
Endometriosis is a painful and often misunderstood condition that affects millions of women around the world. Despite being relatively common, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat, leading many women to suffer in silence for years.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it, attaching to other organs and tissues such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, and even the lungs. This misplaced tissue can cause inflammation, scarring, and adhesions, leading to chronic pain, infertility, and other complications.
Endometriosis affects an estimated 10% of women of reproductive age, with some studies suggesting the number could be even higher. It is most commonly diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s but can affect women of any age who have started menstruating.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis vary from person to person but can include:
- Painful periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Painful bowel movements or urination during periods
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
Diagnosing endometriosis can be challenging, as many of the symptoms are common to other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease. The only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis is through surgery, specifically a laparoscopy, where a small camera is inserted into the abdomen to look for signs of endometrial tissue.
Treatment Options for Endometriosis
There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. These include:
- Pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help alleviate menstrual cramps and pelvic pain.
- Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapies such as birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, or GnRH agonists can help suppress the growth of endometrial tissue and reduce symptoms.
- Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove endometrial tissue and adhesions.
- Lifestyle changes: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and reducing stress can help alleviate symptoms.
Pelvic Physiotherapy for Endometriosis
Physiotherapy can help with the following symptoms of endometriosis:
- Pelvic Pain: Physiotherapy can help manage pelvic pain by addressing muscle imbalances and tension that can develop in the pelvic floor muscles. This is done through exercises such as pelvic floor muscle training, stretching, and relaxation techniques.
- Urinary and Bowel Dysfunction: Endometriosis can cause urinary and bowel dysfunction, such as urinary urgency or constipation. Physiotherapy can help address these issues by improving muscle strength and coordination in the pelvic floor muscles, which can help improve bladder and bowel function.
- Sexual Dysfunction: Pain during intercourse is a common symptom of endometriosis. Physiotherapy can help address sexual dysfunction by working on pelvic floor muscle strength, relaxation, and coordination, which can help reduce pain during intercourse.
- Post-surgical Recovery: If surgery is required for endometriosis, physiotherapy can help with post-surgical recovery. This can include exercises to promote healing, manage pain, and improve mobility.
Physiotherapy treatment for endometriosis typically involves an assessment by a Pelvic Physiotherapist to determine the specific areas of dysfunction and create a personalized treatment plan. Treatment may involve a combination of exercises, education, and manual therapy techniques to address muscle imbalances, tension, and pain.
It is important to note that physiotherapy is not a cure for endometriosis, but rather a way to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. It is also important to work with a qualified Pelvic Physiotherapist who has experience in treating endometriosis to ensure that the treatment is safe and effective.
Follow the link to meet our Pelvic Health Physiotherapy team
For further information regarding endometriosis visit Endometriosis Australia