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Endometriosis is a significant health issue affecting women and people assigned female at birth in Tasmania, just as it is throughout Australia. It is a painful and chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While there is limited data on the prevalence of endometriosis in Tasmania specifically, it is estimated that at least one in nine women and people assigned female at birth in Australia experience the condition. It occurs when tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus, leading to inflammation, scarring, and pain.

This page will discuss and help you learn about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of endometriosis. We will also discuss the services Family Planning Tasmania provides to help manage and treat the symptoms of endometriosis.

You don’t have to live with painful, heavy periods. At Family Planning Tasmania, we can help.

Causes and symptoms

The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, but there are several theories. One theory is that during menstruation, some of the menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity, where it implants and grows. Another theory is that endometrial cells are carried through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body, where they grow and cause endometriosis.

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain, which can be severe and debilitating. The pain is often worse during menstruation, but it can also occur at other times during the menstrual cycle. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Infertility
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Diagnosis, treatment and management

Diagnosing endometriosis can be challenging, as the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ovarian cysts. The most common diagnostic tests include:

  • Pelvic exam: A doctor will feel for any lumps or abnormalities in the pelvis. A Family Planning Tasmania doctor can conduct a pelvic exam.
  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to create images of the pelvic organs.
  • Laparoscopy: This is a surgical procedure in which a small incision is made in the abdomen to allow a thin tube with a camera to be inserted to examine the pelvic organs. Removal of the endometriosis tissue may also occur during this procedure for diagnosis and possible treatment.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms. These include:

  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help manage mild to moderate pain.
  • Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the growth of endometrial tissue. Options include birth control pills, progesterone, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the endometriosis tissue. This is usually done using laparoscopic surgery.

Family Planning Tasmania services

Family Planning Tasmania can assist with an assessment for endometriosis, and a symptom management plan, which may include:

  • Pain medication
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Referral for laparoscopic surgery in one of our hospitals
  • Referral for physical therapy, such as pelvic floor physiotherapy
  • Referral to other specialists, such as gastroenterologists and dieticians, to help treat co-occurring conditions
  • Lifestyle changes

We recommend people who suspect they might have endometriosis try hormonal contraception where appropriate.

More information

The below video provides an overview of endometriosis relevant for health professionals.

There are some fantastic resources out there to support people living with endometriosis.

Find out more information and additional resources:

Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there is no cure, there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of endometriosis, it is important to book an appointment with a Family Planning Tasmania doctor or your preferred healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you need assistance, advice or treatment for pelvic pain or any other sexual or reproductive health issue, please make an appointment with one of our friendly doctors.

This content is provided for general information and education purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances. It is not to be relied on in substitution for specific advice from a medical professional and Family Planning Tasmania does not accept responsibility for such use. Family Planning Tasmania has taken every effort to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate, however information and knowledge is subject to change. Family Planning Tasmania advises that you always consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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