Mar 02, 2023

What is Endometriosis - with Jean Hailes

Since our first period, we’re often told cramps are just part of the period package. But what happens when our cramps stop us from living our day to day lives? When extremely painful cramps are a symptom on an underlying chronic condition?

We spoke to Jean Hailes about endometriosis, the excruciating condition that affects 1 in 9 Australian women and people assigned female at birth. Jean Hailes provides easy-to-understand translations of scientific and medical evidence around menstrual health and more.

What is endo (endometriosis)?

Endo (endometriosis) is a condition where cells similar to those that line the uterus grow in other areas of your body, especially around your ovaries and uterus. These cells grow to form patches that bleed and leak fluid around the time you have your period. This can lead to inflammation and scarring. Endometriosis can occur in the lining of your pelvis and abdomen, and sometimes outside your pelvic area. For many, it can be extremely painful and difficult to diagnose. 

Endometriosis affects about one in 9 women and people assigned female at birth. Many with endo will experience painful periods, pain during and after sex, pelvic pain and pain when doing a wee or poo. 

For more information visit endometriosis symptoms at Jean Hailes.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

It can take months or years to diagnose endometriosis. This is because symptoms vary between people, and symptoms can change over time. What’s more, period pain is often accepted as normal, so people don’t seek help or are dismissed.

Endometriosis is usually diagnosed with a laparoscopy. This is keyhole surgery (via the abdomen) performed under general anaesthetic. A laparoscopy is the only way to confirm that endometriosis is present. 

With new technology and expert training, specialists can now use ultrasound to find features of endometriosis. Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of your body. This gives doctors a ‘working diagnosis’ so people can be treated without surgery.

MRI is a technology used to take cross-sectional pictures of your body. This technology is being investigated as a less invasive way to diagnose endometriosis. If the results are positive, they may be used for diagnosis in the future.

Speak to your GP if you think you might be suffering from endometriosis. 

For more information visit endometriosis diagnosis at Jean Hailes.

How do I manage the symptoms of endometriosis?

While there is currently no cure for endometriosis, there are many ways to manage the condition. It’s about working out what’s right for you. Medication options include pain-relief medicines, anti-inflammatory medicines, hormone medicines, non-hormone treatments or surgery. Having a healthcare team is best for managing endo. This team could include a GP experienced in women’s health, a gynaecologist, a physiotherapist, a pain specialist, a naturopath, a psychologist or a sex therapist.

Endometriosis is associated with other conditions, such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, so you may need other specialists to assist in these areas as well.

For more information visit endometriosis treatment and management at Jean Hailes.

Where can I find get support or information about endo?

It’s important to get the right care if you have endo. Look for experienced doctors and healthcare professionals who specialise in managing endometriosis.

Visit Jean Hailes for Women’s Health for free, up-to-date, evidence-based information. You can also find support groups across Australia and other useful information via the Endometriosis Australia website.

What should I do if I think I might have endometriosis?

It’s not OK or normal to have severe period pain. If you have period pain that is affecting your daily activities (e.g. school, uni, work or sport) see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you think you have endo it’s a good idea to keep a diary of your symptoms. This will help your doctor or gynaecologist to find out what’s wrong. Your doctor may ask questions about your family medical history, periods, period pain, pain during or after sex, pain when you go to the toilet and other symptoms.

If you do have endometriosis, early diagnosis and treatment are important as this can reduce the impact of the condition. 

For more information visit endometriosis at Jean Hailes

Could endometriosis affect my fertility?

Some people with endometriosis will have no difficulty falling pregnant. But evidence suggests it may be harder to conceive the worse the condition gets.

Endometriosis-related issues, such as inflammation within the pelvis, adhesions (scar tissue that binds organs together), immune changes and eggs that are low in number or quality can affect fertility. 

Remember, not everyone with endometriosis will require surgery or fertility treatment, and not everyone with fertility issues will have endometriosis. If you’re having trouble conceiving, speak to a women’s health specialist about your options.

Learning and talking about endometriosis is key to raising awareness. If the symptoms covered above sound familiar, check in with your doctor or medical professional to address your concerns. Remember that period pain doesn’t always equal endo and may be related to another cause or condition, so it’s important to stay informed and check in with your health provider.

For more information on endometriosis, read our blog on endometriosis

Love, Libra x
Essity makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.


Are you up to date with your health checks?

Are you up to date with your health checks?

Explore the essential health checks you should be aware of: breast examination, cervical screening, skin assessment, and sexual health.
What You Need to Know About Menstrual Cycle Hormones

What You Need to Know About Menstrual Cycle Hormones

Learn all about menstrual cycle hormones: their functions, effects, and importance.
Why Do My Periods Sync with My Friends?

Why Do My Periods Sync with My Friends?

Every wondered about period syncing? We've got the details
Why am I getting a burning feeling on my period?

Why am I getting a burning feeling on my period?

Discover common causes and treatments for burning sensation during your period.