Endometriosis is an often painful condition in which tissue similar to that which normally lines the uterus grows outside it. This tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle but because it has no way to exit the body it becomes trapped, causing pain and potentially affecting fertility. Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic tissue. It may cause cysts to form, irritating surrounding tissue and eventually causing scar tissue and adhesions which can cause pelvic tissue and surrounding organs to stick together. About 1 in 9 Australian women develop endometriosis by their 40s and as well as preventing them from participating fully in work, education, sport and social activities it leads to tens of thousands of hospitalisations every year.
There is no cure for endometriosis but there are treatments such as medication, surgery and complementary therapies which can help relieve the symptoms. Treatment will depend upon the symptoms, the severity of the endometriosis and whether the person is planning a pregnancy. Even when endometriosis is treated the pain may not disappear and other issues may arise. Physiotherapy may help to manage issues such as bladder control and bowel problems, while a clinical psychologist can help to manage chronic pain. Sometimes lifestyle improvements surrounding sleep, regular exercise and stress management can play a role.
Medical Cannabis appears to be effective for pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues and mood, depending on the method of ingestion. Recent studies have suggested that women with endometriosis may have a dysfunction in their endocannabinoid system and that aspects of their pain may be targeted by managing this system. Clinical trials investigating the tolerability and effectiveness of medical cannabis for endometriosis pain and symptoms are urgently required.
Endometriosis Australia endeavours to increase recognition of endometriosis, provide endometriosis education programs and help fund endometriosis research. Endometriosis Australia | Home
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