Endometriosis FAQ’s

Most frequent questions and answers

Endometriosis (or ‘endo’) is a chronic condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found in places outside of the uterus. Areas of endometriosis are called lesions, which can lead to pain, scarring and sometimes difficulty falling pregnant.  Endometriosis is usually found in the pelvis (e.g. ovaries, uterus, bladder, bowel), however, in rare cases it can be found in the lungs, diaphragm (located in the chest) and belly button (navel).

The best way to diagnose endometriosis is through keyhole surgery (called a laparoscopy). This procedure is done when you are under general anesthetic (so you sleep during the surgery) and is best done by a specialist who is experienced in endometriosis. This procedure involves the specialist making a small incision in your belly button (and two or three cuts lower down), a small camera and implements are used to examine the pelvic area. During this time the specialist can treat the areas of endometriosis by excising (cutting out) or cauterising (burning off) the areas of endometriosis. How the endometriosis is treated will be determined by the specialist and where the endometriosis is located in the pelvis.

The tricky thing with endometriosis is that the symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people may experience pain with their period (that stops them doing what they would normally do), bladder or bowel problems, fatigue or pelvic pain at other times (e.g with sex or when they don’t have their period).  Sometimes endometriosis can make it difficult to fall pregnant. Some people may have no symptoms at all. 

There are multiple ways that endometriosis can be managed and the important thing is finding what works for you. Any treatments should be discussed with your doctor or specialist and should take into account your symptoms, circumstances and desire (or not) for pregnancy. The key approaches include:

  • Surgery – laparoscopy (see above – how endometriosis is diagnosed)
  • Medical – hormonal treatments (e.g. pill, Mirena, injections) – these may help you manage your symptoms and may allow you to skip your period. Another option is pain medications to help you manage the pain you feel with endometriosis.
  • Complementary therapies – some people may find benefit in acupuncture, supplements, massage or other therapies.