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What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that are similar in make-up to the inner lining of the womb (endometrium) occur outside of the womb; for example on the bowel or bladder, ovaries and fallopian tubes and on the lining of the abdomen.

It is thought to affect around two million women in the UK but it is difficult to be sure because some women have no symptoms. Women of child bearing age are affected most commonly. It is not a malignancy, it is not a cancer. You are more likely to have it if your mother or sister had it. It is linked to infertility.

What to eat?

  • Increase Your Intake of Omega-3 Fats. Share on Pinterest. ...
  • Avoid Trans Fats. ...
  • Cut Down on Red Meat. ...
  • Eat Plenty of Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains. ...
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol. ...
  • Cut down on Processed Foods. ...
  • Try a Gluten-Free or Low-FODMAP Diet. ...
  • Soy May Be Beneficial.

Symptoms of endometriosis:

Symptoms can vary with some women not having any at all, and others having very severe pain. The most common symptoms are:

  • painful, heavy or irregular periods
  • pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back around ovulation time, but also throughout the cycle
  • ongoing pelvic pain lasting six months or longer
  • pain during or after sex
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • painful bowel movements and emptying of bladder

Women have also reported some other symptoms, which include:

What causes endometriosis?

The cause of endometriosis is still unknown however there are some theories which include:

  • Retrograde menstruation: The term for when some of the lining of the womb flows backwards through the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen rather than leaving the body as a period.
  • Genetics: It is more common to be affected by endometriosis if a female member of your family (especially a parent or sibling) has endometriosis. It can occur in women of all ethnicities but is more common in Asian women than white women and it is less common in women of African-Caribbean origin.
  • Immune system: It may be that some women’s immune system is not able to get rid of the tissue therefore women with low immune system may be more at risk of endometriosis
  • Environmental: Certain toxins in the environment that affect the immune systems and reproductive system are thought to cause endometriosis but this has not been proven in humans yet.
  • Lymphatic or circulatory spread: It is possible that some cells of the tissue can travel around the body in the bloodstream or other vessels to different parts of the body

How endometriosis affects fertility

Although endometriosis can have an effect on your chances of getting pregnant most women who have mild endometriosis are not infertile. An estimated 70% of women with mild to moderate endometriosis will get pregnant without treatment. If you know you have endometriosis and are failing to conceive, talk to your doctor who can advise you or refer you to the necessary fertility specialists.

The exact nature of the link between infertility and endometriosis is unclear but the severity of the condition and location of the tissue appears to have an effect.

Managing the pain

If your endometriosis causes pain and you are taking painkillers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), paracetamol or Codeine. You will be advised to stop taking NSAIDs and minimise the use of codeine as they may have an effect on the baby if you conceive.

Hormonal treatments

There are lots of different types of hormonal treatments that can be offered to those who have endometriosis