Endometriosis is an often painful condition affecting perhaps even 10% of the female adult population. In this article we will discuss what endometriosis is and mention a few ways to cope with the pain and emotional impact of endometriosis, using endometriosis treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy.
The word endometriosis comes from the endometrium, which is a lining of tissue inside the uterus. This tissue thickens during menstruation. When somebody has endometriosis the cells that make up the endometrium will in fact begin to grow and form in other parts of the body, often not far from the uterus, for example the fallopian tubes or pelvis. However, for some women, it can grow even in the lungs or other parts of the body.
Endometriosis is a long term, chronic condition and a sufferer may experience pain in varying degrees, especially during menstruation. There are also a number of other symptoms, a few of which will be listed below. However, since endometriosis symptoms are often mistaken for other conditions or will come in cycles or appear infrequently, it can often take even years for people to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis. This delay in diagnosis itself can cause a lot of distress and frustration, with many interventions, scans and hospital visits.
Endometriosis treatment: Common symptoms of endometriosis
Pain with bowel movements or urination. This is especially during a menstrual period.
Painful periods. This may be experienced as cramping or pelvic pain, which begins just before and will continue for a number of days into a menstrual cycle. You may also experience abdominal pain or lower back pain.
Pain during or after sexual intercourse. This is common for many women but may be less discussed out of fear or embarrassment. Later in this article we will discuss a few ideas to help with this distressing symptom which can affect self esteem and relationships.
Excessive bleeding. It is common to experience heavy menstrual periods or bleeding in between periods
Infertility. It is estimated that a third or even half of women living with endometriosis will experience impaired fertility. Indeed since there is often a delay in a clear diagnosis of endometriosis, it can happen that it is only when somebody goes to seek help with infertility that it is confirmed that endometriosis is indeed present.
Other symptoms. Other common endometriosis symptoms include diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue, nausea, or bloating. Endometriosis is a chronic condition, with no clear cure. Women living with endometriosis can experience anxiety, stress or even depression. This is where emotional and psychological endometriosis treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or hypnotherapy for endometriosis are important to consider.
If you have any symptoms that are occurring persistently, ensure that you go to see your doctor. It can be very challenging to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis because, on occasion, as mentioned, symptoms are often assumed to be due to something else. It might be also that at one visit to the doctor, you may have a symptom, for example excessive bleeding, but then, a few weeks later, at another , that same symptom has temporarily reduced in intensity or not be present at all.
Endometriosis Treatment: Causes of endometriosis
It is unclear what the causes of endometriosis are. It is possible that it is genetic or even due to scarring after surgery. Another possible cause is changes in hormone levels. Also considered are psycho-social reasons, such as stress or even that childhood trauma or neglect could be a factor, increasing the likelihood of endometriosis as an adult.
Endometriosis treatment for emotional wellbeing
Endometriosis is a long-term condition and some have compared it to a having a benign cancer. Since endometrium cells have started to grow in elsewhere, sometimes removal of these tissues is the recommended procedure. And in some cases, a hysterectomy is recommended as well. However, it is considered extremely likely that cells will grow back again in the future.
Women with endometriosis may also experience some emotional distress as a result of living with this condition. It is important to add that family and loved ones may be affected emotionally as well, just like anyone who has a loved one with a long term, often painful, condition. As the main symptoms of endometriosis include pain, fatigue and sometimes infertility, the condition can be a significant personal challenge.
Endometriosis symptoms may affect relationships, your quality of life and career too. Constant endometriosis pain or the expectation of pain, not only may feel distressing and tiring, but will also have an emotional and even spiritual impact on the sufferer. It is no surprise that some endometriosis sufferers experience depression, weakness, or thoughts and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They may feel disappointed and frustration about how their lives have been proceeding, and the hand they have been dealt, since endometriosis is really a lifelong condition.
Delayed diagnosis and endometriosis treatment
Delayed diagnosis can mean women often feel ignored or unheard by doctors or even that their symptoms are not real, important or validated by health professionals. This frustrating delay or going through many tests will impact also on a person’s self esteem, confidence and overall mood. It is important to look for support and help. There are organisations such as Endometriosis UK who offer help and support. Even though waiting times can be long, your GP and NHS consultants are extremely important to have regular contact with also.
I use hypnotherapy to help with the pain and emotional impact of endometriosis symptoms. It is often recommended to see a therapist to work through and understand better the emotional impact that endometriosis can have on a sufferer. A therapist, be that a psychotherapist, CBT therapist or hypnotherapist, can help you deal better with pain and living with this chronic long-term condition. As with other long term conditions, endometriosis may mean your lifestyle and expectations of what life will be like may have changed. Counselling therapy and hypnotherapy can help you better adjust to your new world and how it’s changed.
There could be important changes to relationships, in particular romantic relationships, work, future plans and if there’s changed expectations around having children. Endometriosis hypnotherapy or CBT can help you cope better with pain and with symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, anxiety, depression, and stress.
Endometriosis treatment: painful sex
A common challenge is painful sex. Painful sexual intercourse may also affect a person’s willingness to enter into romantic relationships, create physical intimacy or can impact the quality of existing relationships.
As it can take even years to be diagnosed with endometriosis, pain during sex can become a real issue for couples or women wishing to have a sexual relationship. Each person may blame each other or themselves for this barrier to intimacy or desist from intercourse totally.
Experiencing endometriosis painful sex symptoms may result in some people avoiding sex. However, with a little patience, confidence and playfulness, it may be possible to have a fulfilling sexual relationship. Of course, if you have any concerns, ensure you discuss fully with your GP or consultant, and feel confident that if there is pain, you are not causing any harm to yourself.
You may find as well that your sex drive is lower, which may actually be more to do with anxiety and tension around the whole subject of sex than anything else.
Your romantic partner may also feel a little helpless or undervalued since they may feel that you avoiding sex is somehow a rejection of them, rather than due to endometriosis.
The most important thing to do is to communicate with each other. Try your best to be very honest about your feelings. Allow your partner to discuss how they feel too. Remember that they are living with endometriosis as well. See it as a joint experience, so set aside time to chat without distractions or interruptions.
If your partner does not understand what endometriosis is, ensure you explain properly. Maybe use some leaflets such as this Royal College of Nursing endometriosis fact sheet. They may wish to accompany you to some consultant appointments, to understand better.
If you’re uncomfortable at any time about anything at all, it’s important to tell your partner how you feel, how the condition makes you feel emotionally and physically. Try to be open and avoid viewing any of their questions as judgmental or critical.
Also communicate and talk with your doctor. Hopefully you’ll have a doctor that you can talk openly with about painful sex and sex related issues. In particular, the emotional ramifications that endometriosis has on your relationships.
Timing is important as well. If endometriosis pain is worse around your periods, you might want to discuss that you will simply avoid sex during those times.
Sexual positions may also differ in the level of pain, so use this as an opportunity to try something new. So experiment and have a sense of curiosity about what feels good.
Rather than making intercourse the focus, you may find that you can experiment with massage, oral sex and different types of foreplay.
Lubrication may also be important to consider or even different types of condoms, if that helps reduce pain.
Most importantly, communicate with each other. Endometriosis painful sex is such a common symptom of endometriosis, and there are certainly others who will share your experience too.
Endometriosis treatment using hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy sessions for endometriosis can help you cope better with the pain and emotional impact of endometriosis. If you’d like to discuss more about how hypnotherapy can help you, get in touch today.