Endometriosis can affect women and girls, transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse people assigned female at birth, regardless of their age, background and lifestyle. Current research suggests that up to 1 in 7 women may have endometriosis.
Ok, so what is endometriosis?
The condition occurs when the cells similar-to those found in the lining of the uterus grow in other parts of the body, such as the bladder, bowel or ovaries. The symptoms can include pelvic pain, heavy periods and changes to bladder and bowel habits.
Symptoms of endometriosis can vary between woman to woman. Some women find they have many symptoms, including severe pain, whereas others may have no symptoms. The severity of the symptoms does not always reflect the severity of the disease. Endometriosis can often take a long time to diagnose due to the large variation in symptoms, with an average diagnosis of 7 years.
One of the main symptoms is period pain. So what period pain is considered normal?
Period pain is only considered ‘normal’ if:
- the pain is there only on the first one or two days of your period
- the pain goes away if you take period pain medications or use the contraceptive pill
- your ability to do your normal activities is not impaired.
What should I look out for and when should I seek help?
If your period pain;
- causes you to miss work, school or recreational activities
- is causing you to stay in bed due to pain
- is not improved with medicines used for period pain, for example ibuprofen or naproxen
- symptoms are getting worse
- is causing you to feel upset or you aren’t coping mentally
Seek help with your GP to improve your pain.
Another symptom of endometriosis is having heavy periods. However, this can also occur for others affecting approximately one in five women. It is especially common in those aged 30-50 years of age.
Ok, but how do I know if my bleeding is TOO heavy?
The following might indicate that you experience heavy bleeding;
- bleeding or ‘flooding’ not contained within a pad/tampon (especially when wearing the largest size)
- changing a pad/tampon every hour or less
- changing a pad overnight
- clots greater than a 50-cent piece in size
- bleeding for more than seven to eight days.
For some people it can be difficult to determine if your bleeding is too heavy.
A good guide is also to see if your period is having an impact on your quality of life is it causing you to stay home and interrupt your usual daily and recreational activities? Is it causing you stress and anxiety?
Heavy bleeding can also affect you in other ways;
- you might feel fatigued, dizzy, look pale
- have low iron levels due to blood loss
So, what can I do for heavy bleeding?
Your GP can assist with several treatment options and investigations depending on your situation and symptoms.
If you think you or someone you know has endometriosis, book an appointment with your GP today