Dr Lisa Neligan, GP talks about Endometriosis

27th, January 2014

Endometriosis is a condition that affects women, in which the cells that normally line your womb grow outside the lining of your womb. It is most common on your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissues that hold your womb in place.

We caught up with Dr Lisa Neligan - GP at the Kingsbridge Healthcare Group to find out more about Endometriosis and who it affects.

What is Endometriosis? 

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Endometriosis is a condition that affects women, in which the cells that normally line your womb grow outside the lining of your womb.  It is most common on your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissues that hold your womb in place. You can also get it in your pelvis, abdomen, vagina, bladder, bowel and more rarely in the space around your lungs and the muscle around your womb. These cells go through the same monthly changes as the womb lining itself, thickening and breaking down, but they have no way of leaving your body .  This can cause bleeding in these sites causing pain, swelling and scarring, which can damage your fallopian tunes or ovaries leading to fertility problems.  It is not cancerous. 

Estimates vary but around 5 to 10 in a 100 women are affected by endometriosis and it is thought up to 2000 women in Northern Ireland are suffering with this debilitating disease..  It can affect any woman of child bearing age.

What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from mild to severe and may include:
  • Painful periods and cramps, pain may get worse over time.
  • Pain during or after intercourse
  • Infertility
  • Intestinal pain
  • Adhesions (bands of scar tissue that can attach to organs in your pelvis and abdomen.
  • Fatigue

Natural history

It becomes worse in 4/10 cases

It stays the same in 3/10 cases

It gets better without treatment in 3/10 cases

Who gets Endometriosis?

The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown.  One theory is that your immune system is not functioning properly – usually your immune system should destroy any endometrial tissue growing outside the lining of the womb.

It may be inherited so you may be more likely to get it if your mother or sister has it too.

A process called retrograde menstruation may be to blame where cells from your womb flow backwards into your body from your fallopian tubes.

Diagnosis for Endometriosis

Visit your GP who will ask you about symptoms. Unfortunately Endometriosis is often misdiagnosed which can lead to delays in treatment.  Please voice your concerns to your GP if you suspect you might have endometriosis. 

At Kingsbridge Private Hospital Belfast – part of the Kingsbridge Healthcare Group we offer a private and confidential GP service open Monday 9-8pm and Saturday 9-5pm.   

Click here to find out more about the Private GP service or call us on 028 9066 7878 if you would like to book an appointment with Dr Lisa Neligan. 

Many patients can suffer with terrible pain and problems with work, socializing and relationships before they are treated appropriately so it is important to get an early diagnosis. You may need to have a vaginal examination to help diagnose Endometriosis.  If this is the case, we can refer you onwards to a gynaecologist at 3fivetwo who will be able to advise on treatment to relieve the symptoms.  The only way to be sure you have endometriosis is to have a laparoscopy.  This is a procedure using a thin telescope like instrument to examine you womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes.

What are the treatment options for Endometriosis?

Painkillers - the type will depend on the severity of your pain

Hormone treatments - are used to reduce the amount of oestrogen that is made or to block the action of oestrogen on endometrial cells. Options include the combined pill, the intrauterine system, gonadtrophin releasing analogues, progesterone hormone tablets and Danazol.

Surgery – laparoscopy with the use of special keyhole instruments/laser to remove the patches of endometriosis. 

Hysterectomy (removal of womb) would only be considered a last resort if symptoms are very severe, other treatments have failed and you have finished your family.

Click here to find out more about hysterectomy surgery at Kingsbridge Private Hospital Belfast.

Are there any support groups for people suffering from Endometriosis?

There are a variety of support groups who can provide additional information and councelling if needed.

Call us today on 028 9066 7878 and speak to one of our private call team who will be able to book you an appointment at our Private GP service.

If you have already been advised to see a Gynaecologist for consultation, Kingsbridge Private Hospital has a wide range of gynaecologists who specialise in the treatment of Endometriosis.

Click here to view our gynaecology page where you can find out more information.

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