Back to your health

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, and sheds in the same way as a period every month.

Please note: Some advice, such as visiting a GP face-to-face, may not be relevant while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place


But, unlike a period, it has nowhere to leave the body – which can cause chronic pain and other symptoms.

It impacts one in 10 women and girls during their reproductive years. That’s around 1.5 million women in the UK alone.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

  • severe period pain
  • pain in your lower back
  • pelvic pain
  • pain during and/or after sex
  • pain peeing or pooing during your period
  • heavy periods.

Unfortunately, getting diagnosed with endometriosis can take a long time.

This is because its symptoms are similar to other common conditions, and awareness is low among some medical professionals.

What happens when I see my GP?

A GP will ask you about your symptoms and may examine your stomach and vagina.

They may recommend treatments or refer you to a gynaecologist for further tests.

Before visiting a GP, it may help to note down your symptoms in a diary so that they can understand them better.

If I am diagnosed with endometriosis, what treatments are available?

There is currently no cure for endometriosis, so treatments are focused on relieving your symptoms instead.

These include:

  • painkillers
  • hormone treatment (such as the combined oral contraceptive pill)
  • surgery to remove the tissue (a laparoscopy)
  • surgery to remove organs affected by the endometriosis, such as the womb (a hysterectomy).

For surgery, a general anaesthetic will be used so you fall asleep and will not feel anything during the procedure.

Will endometriosis stop me from having a family?

Not all women with endometriosis have fertility problems, though some may struggle to conceive naturally.

Find more in-depth information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:

Visit the NHS website