Clearing up some myths about endometriosis
Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain – Gynaecologist and author Dr Susan Evans clears up some myths.
For many women Endometriosis and pelvic pain are an unfortunate reality. But it’s not just affecting older women – a recent Menstrual Disorder of Teenagers study found that almost 20% of Australian teenage girls aged 16-18 suffer severe menstrual pain which interferes with their schooling and normal life activities.
Dr Evans says that many women and girls also ‘fall through the cracks’ due to a complex mix of symptoms: "There’s no-one able to help them with their concerns," she says, "and they can end up having quite disjointed care. Something need to be done!"
Dr Susan Evans highlights common Endometriosis misconceptions and symptoms to watch out for below:
- It will all get better once you have a baby. Unfortunately not true. Sometimes pain on the first day of a period is better after a pregnancy, but other pains don't usually improve.
- Women with endometriosis are infertile. Women with endometriosis sometimes find it difficult to become pregnant, but many get pregnant easily, especially if the endometriosis is mild. So, it is still really important to use reliable contraception.
- The amount of pelvic pain depends on how much endometriosis is in the pelvis. We know that while having a lot of endometriosis can increase the chance of infertility, it doesn't fit with the amount of pain at all. So, you can have a little bit of endometriosis and a lot of pain or a lot of endometriosis and only a little bit of pain. There are many types of pelvic pain you can't see at a laparoscopy.
Symptoms to watch for:
- Period pain that lasts for more than 1-2 days each month
- Period pain that doesn't get better on the pill or with normal period pain medications
- Pelvic pain that causes them distress or stops them doing things they enjoy.
- Girls or women whose mothers or sisters have had problems with pelvic pain. There is much more that can be done to help now.
Does diet change and exercise help?
Changing diet won't get rid of endometriosis, but it can help pelvic pain a lot. The common problems are bowel pain or bloating after eating wheat products like pasta or bread, or sometimes drinking milk. Her bowel will complain unless she gives it the healthy, low wheat, low fat, low salt diet it wants.The foods that aggravate the bowel are sometimes called FODMAP foods and are explained further in the eBook release.
Exercise is also essential as it releases chemicals in the blood that block pain and also helps muscles work normally. The trouble is that some core-strength exercises can make pelvic muscle pain worse, so one of the best exercises is walking. Even ten minutes a day can make a big difference.
Dr Susan Evans is a gynaecologist in Adelaide, specialising in the management of pelvic pain. She has a long held interest in improving the care of women and girls with pelvic pain through improved public awareness, clinical practice, education, and multidisciplinary care. She is terrific media talent and is available for interview to discuss related issues. Dr Evans is releasing a completely revised and updated version of her best-selling book, Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain in October.
To coincide with the new edition Dr Evans is also offering a free eBook answering common questions that will be available on her website www.drsusanevans.com on 25 September.