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Signs showing our period pains are something to worry about

  Signs showing our period pains are something to worry about
Published 12 months ago on Mar 10, 2023

But for some women, periods and this can be a sign something more serious called endometriosis. 

Endometriosis is an extremely painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places - often around the reproductive organs, bowel and bladder.

Tissue builds up every month but, unlike a period, there is no way for the blood to escape, resulting in crippling pain during periods and flare-ups.

Endometriosis affects around 1.5million in the UK — around the same number of women as diabetes. 

However, many are not diagnosed for around eight years because symptoms are similar to other standard period pains and other health problems.

Symptoms

Bina Mehta, pharmacist at boots, shared her advice on the differences between endometriosis and period pain.

She said: "Shared common symptoms of both conditions include pelvic pan and lower tummy pain

"However, severe period pain, that stops you doing your normal activities, could be a sign of endometriosis and you should speak to your GP as soon as possible.

Bina added: "Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain in the lower tummy or back, which is usually worse during your period, pain during or after sex, pain when peeing and pooing during your period, feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee or poo.

"Some women may also have trouble getting pregnant. 

Managing the pain

Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms.

Bina suggests taking over-the-counter pain relief like ,ibuprofen or paracetamol. 

There are also hormone treatments available which may help.

"If your GP suspects endometriosis they will discuss options with you to help decide what's best for you," Bina said.

"In some cases, women may require surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue or to remove all or part of the organs affected by the condition," she explained.

What causes endometriosis?

The exact cause of the condition isn't known, but it's thought it could be hereditary or due to environmental factors - namely the presence of dioxins in the environment.

Other experts believe it could be caused by a process called retrograde menstruation, which is when the womb lining flows backwards through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen, instead of leaving the body as a period.

In 2017, scientistsdiscovered cancer causing gene mutations in some patients diagnosed with the agonising womb condition.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, saw researchers analyse tissue from the lining of the womb of 27 women and found most had one or multiple genetic mutations.

Twenty-four were found to have genetic mutations that could increase the risk of cancer.

These mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except sperm and egg cells and can, but do not always, trigger the disease.

Study co-author, Michael Anglesio, told the Vancouver sun: “Finding these mutations in non-cancer conditions is largely uncharted territory.

“It’s not just inflammation around endometrial tissue in the wrong place, it’s that there are genetic changes hardwired into the biology of the disorder.”


 

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