GP focus with Dr Alison Bateman

Date posted: 1st March 2022

Our GPs are an important part of Bay Health Care Partners and here our GPs and primary care colleagues have the opportunity to talk about issues and specialties that they are working on or interested in. This month, Dr Alison Bateman, Associate GP at Queen Square Medical Practice in Lancaster, shares advice and support on endometriosis in advance of Endometriosis Awareness month (1-30 March 2022). 

What is Endometriosis?

Dr Bateman: "Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries. 

"There are around 1.5 million women and those assigned female at birth that are living with the condition, regardless of race or ethnicity. 

"Endometriosis can affect women of any age from puberty to menopause. 

"It is a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your life, but there are treatments that can help."

What are the symptoms?

Dr Bateman said: "It is important to note that the symptoms of endometriosis can vary from person to person. Some women are badly affected, while others might not have noticeable symptoms:

"The main symptoms are:

  • pain in your tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
  • period pain that stops you from doing your normal activities
  • pain during or after sex
  • pain when peeing or pooing during your period
  • feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea or blood in your pee during your period
  • difficulty getting pregnant.

"Some women may also have heavy periods and might use lots of sanitary pads or tampons or may bleed through their clothes.

"For some women, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression."

When to see a GP

Dr Bateman said: "It’s important to see your GP if you have symptoms of endometriosis, especially if they’re having a big impact on your life. 

"Before seeing your doctor, it may help to write down your symptoms. Endometriosis UK has a pain and symptoms diary you can use. 

"Diagnosing endometriosis can be difficult because the symptoms can vary considerably, and many other conditions can cause similar symptoms. 

"Your GP will ask about your symptoms and may ask to examine your tummy and vagina. 

"They may recommend treatments if they think you have endometriosis. If these treatments do not help, they may refer you to a specialist called a gynaecologist for some further tests, such as an ultrasound scan or laparoscopy. 

"A laparoscopy is where a surgeon passes a thin tube through a small cut in your tummy so they can see any patches of endometriosis tissue. This is the only way to be certain that you have endometriosis." 

Treatments for endometriosis

Dr Bateman said: "There’s currently no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms. 

"Treatments include:

  • painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol
  • hormone medicines and contraceptives including the combined pill, contraceptive patch, an intrauterine system and medicines called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues
  • surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue
  • an operation to remove part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis such as the womb. 

"Your doctor will discuss the options with you. Sometimes they may suggest not starting treatment immediately to see if your symptoms improve on their own."

Other problems caused by endometriosis

Dr Bateman said: "One of the main complications of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant or not being able to get pregnant at all. 

"Surgery to remove endometriosis tissue can help improve your chances of getting pregnant, although there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get pregnant after treatment. 

"Surgery for endometriosis can also sometimes cause further problems, such as infections, bleeding or damage to affected organs. If surgery is recommended for you, talk to your surgeon about the possible risks. 

"You can find out more about the complications of endometriosis here."

Living with endometriosis

Dr Bateman said: "It can be physically and emotionally difficult to live with endometriosis. 

"As well as support from your doctor, you may find additional advice and support at Endometriosis UK. 

"Endometriosis UK has a directory of local support groups, a helpline on 0800 808 2227 and an online community for women affected by the condition."

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