Focus on Endometriosis – Do You Know the Signs?

Around 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK suffers from endometriosis and yet getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment can be extremely difficult. Endometriosis is a condition where cells that line the womb are found elsewhere in the body. They behave in the same way as cells inside the womb and therefore swell and bleed on a monthly basis, causing a wide range of symptoms including painful menstruation and intercourse.

Prof Adnan Bunkheila, a consultant gynaecologist who works in the NHS and here at HMT Sancta Maria Hospital, explains the condition, the signs and symptoms and treatment options available.

“Endometriosis can be a debilitating condition for women. As well as the chronic pain associated with the condition, it can have a knock-on effect on a woman’s mental health, career, sexual relationships and fertility.

“It is a difficult condition to diagnose, and many women wait for several years from first identifying symptoms to getting a diagnosis and accessing treatment. The condition doesn’t show up on scans or on MRI’s until it is very advanced. Blood tests also rarely pick up on the condition and therefore it is imperative for women with suspected endometriosis to been seen by a specialist.

“Women with chronic pain associated with their monthly cycle who have ruled out other conditions should seek the opinion of a specialist. I find that many of my patients are overwhelmed with relief when I can accurately diagnose them as their journey up to that point has been long and painful.

“In most instances, surgery is the most effective form of treatment. Medication can calm down certain symptoms but a procedure known as Laparoscopy ensures that endometriosiscells are removed and the problems is treated at source.

“A Laparoscopy as a minimally invasive keyhole surgery where a magnified camera is inserted into the body through the belly button, allowing the surgeon to pinpoint the location of the endometriosis and cut it out. The aim of the surgery is to relieve symptoms and to stop the endometriosis from further damaging the organs that it landed on.

“Sometimes more than one surgery is required if the endometriosis is particularly aggressive or is growing deeply in an area such as the rectum. Healing time from the procedure is normally quite quick and with it being minimally invasive, my patients are usually home the next day and starting their recovery.

“Outcomes from surgery are very much based on the skill and experience of the surgeon. Being meticulous and removing all deposits of endometriosis and scar tissue that results from endometriosis is the key to making symptoms go away and to restoring fertility. Not many gynaecologists are experts in this field so I would urge women who are self-referring to research their consultant and their knowledge in this area.

“Although diagnosis can be difficult, effective treatment of endometriosis can dramatically improve the quality of life for patients so I would urge women who feel that they have been suffering with chronic pain and severe periods to seek medical advice. Although I receive many referrals from GPs who suspect their patients are living with this condition, I also see many women who self-refer themselves after getting no answers from traditional diagnostic techniques. If you are concerned about your health in this area then reach out for help and start your journey to diagnosis, treatment and recovery.”

Prof Bunkheila is one of the most experienced specialists in endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery and male/female infertility in Wales.

For more information about endometriosis or to book a consultation with us at HMT Sancta Maria Hospital visit www.hmtsanctamaria.org or call 01792 479 040.