What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory, systemic disease characterised by cells resembling the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) growing in places outside of the uterus. These cells are most commonly found in the pelvis, but can be found almost anywhere in the body with bowel, liver, and even lung involvement identified. The causes are as of yet unknown with hormonal, genetic, and immune origins theorised.
 
People with endometriosis can experience a range of symptoms with the most predominant being pelvic pain, but can also include fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, and infertility. The severity of these symptoms is unrelated to the severity of endometriosis lesions.
 
To date the only definitive diagnosis is surgical and while there are many potential treatments their efficacy is limited and variable. There is no cure for endometriosis. (1)


1. Agarwal SK, Chapron C, Giudice LC, Laufer MR, Leyland N, Missmer SA, et al. Clinical diagnosis of endometriosis: a call to action. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2019;220(4):354.e1–354.e12.
MYTH
People with stage 1 disease will only experience mild symptoms
FACT
There is no correlation between the stage of the disease and the severity of symptoms
MYTH
People with endometriosis cannot have children
FACT
People with endometriosis are more likely to have fertility problems
The National Action Plan for Endometriosis was developed in 2018 by the Turnbull Government, with contributions from many organisations and individuals.

Its overarching goal is to see, “A tangible improvement in the quality of life for individuals living with endometriosis, including a reduction in the impact and burden of disease at individual and population levels.” (2)

The plan recognises the need for:
- Greater awareness and education
- Improved access to services that are appropriate, available and accessible
- Support for further research relevant to need


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2. Australian Government Department of Health. National Action Plan for Endometriosis [Internet]. Canberra; 2018. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/national-action-plan-for-endometriosis.pdf
MYTH
Pregnancy cures endometriosis
FACT
Depending on the person, pregnancy can make things better, worse, or can have no effect
MYTH
Endometriosis can be diagnosed on ultrasound
FACT
While some scans can be helpful, endometriosis can only be diagnosed surgically
MYTH
Endometriosis can just be burned away at surgery
FACT
Excision of endometriosis is the gold standard treatment by expert consensus
MYTH
Period pain is normal
FACT
Period pain that interferes with your life is not normal and should be investigated
MYTH
Adenomyosis is the same thing
FACT
Adenomyosis is when the lining of the uterus grows deeper into the muscular wall of the uterus