Endometriosis is where there are cells

Endometriosis is where there are cells
similar to those lining the womb

outside the womb, such as
on the ovaries, fallopian tubes,

ligaments inside the tummy.

Those cells then act as they would
within the womb.

So on a monthly basis,
they will kind of grow.

But rather than being able to shed,
as you would during a period,

then the blood has nowhere else to go.

How the cells get to be where they're
not meant to be, we don't know.

I call it endo-pain!

It's a kind of intense,
dragging, constant feeling...

..that just exhausts you.

Any woman who's having periods,
so from teenage to the menopause,

can have endometriosis.

When I came off the pill,
then the symptoms got worse.

Sex was very painful and
periods continue to be painful.

Endometriosis symptoms are
always related to the period cycle.

They can be just lower tummy pain,
like a period pain.

They can be pain on passing water,

pain up in your bottom
when you open your bowels,

and pain on intercourse.

(Jo) It seems to be
very difficult to identify.

I think that's why there are so many
problems with diagnosis.

(Caroline) If you think you might
have the symptoms of endometriosis,

the first place to start
is with your GP.

(Jo) Try and describe the symptoms
using a pain diary or a symptom diary.

Take that to the doctors.
Do as much research as you can.

Endometriosis is primarily managed by
pain relief, so your normal painkillers.

My advice would be to take
your painkillers regularly

while you've got the pain.

Something simple, like Paracetamol.

I've started doing yoga for relaxation
which does help.

If you can face getting your trainers on
to get out of the door,

exercise is positively good.

There are lots of theories
about dietary things that you can do.

Good diet, lots of fibre, lots of water.

It's a very fine line to balance
work and life and pain.

(Caroline) Treatment options
available to someone...

The most easy one to go on to
is the combined contraceptive pill,

as effective as some of the stronger
treatments for endometriosis,

and very good at helping the pain.

And you can come to an operation later
to make a formal diagnosis.

My general advice would be
save operations for last.

The laparoscopy operations are done
as a keyhole surgery.

And they go in and, using tools,
they look inside

and find where the endometriosis
might be growing.

And they then treat it using
different surgical techniques.

Endometriosis is not necessarily linked
with difficulty having children.

Most women with endometriosis
will get pregnant without any problem.

The worst forms of endometriosis,
the most severe type,

causes adhesions, for everything
to stick together in the tummy,

and that can cause difficulty
getting pregnant.

(Jo) I think you always have to
have hope with it.

And I've heard stories of women
who've had severe endometriosis

who've gone through
very difficult treatments

and who have had children.

(Caroline) There is lots of help out
there: your GP, support groups.

Endometriosis UK has a nationwide
network of volunteer support groups

that you can get help from.

The source of the greatest information
for me was the Endometriosis UK charity

which offers free information
and support.

And they have information packs
that they send out.