Mar 5 2007
By Jane Picken, The Evening Chronicle
It's a common condition and can cause infertility, but many of us know little about Endometriosis. With an awareness week about the illness starting today, health reporter Jane Picken finds out more.
Mum Lisa Miller is just one of an estimated two million women across the country whose lives are blighted by a condition few have even heard of before their doctors give the diagnosis.
Before she was diagnosed in 1997, Lisa suffered crippling abdominal pains every month, as the illness caused rogue plaques, or cells to form outside her womb, in her pelvic cavity and on her spine.
"I just thought it was something I would have to deal with," remembered Lisa, from Ferryhill, County Durham.
"I was also quite embarrassed about it. When I was younger I heard so many people saying I should accept the pain because it was part of being a woman."
Heavy periods, severe abdominal pain, depression and inability to conceive are just some of the symptoms of Endometriosis, which causes cells that should only be found in the lining of the uterus to be found in other areas of the body, including the bladder and fallopian tubes.
These cells behave in the same way as those lining the womb, so in response to the female hormones, they grow during the menstrual cycle and bleed during a period.
There is no known cure, but treatments can suppress the illness and Lisa, 36, had a second laparoscopy two years ago - an operation to probe the illness and remove some of the troublesome cells.
"After that operation I still couldn't get the pain under control so I went to different doctors who now believe the Endometriosis is on my spine," explained Lisa, who is now taking painkillers and hormone drugs to ease the symptoms.