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13th Feb 2024

‘After multiple endometriosis surgeries and still no concrete treatment plan, I’m just left waiting’

Sophie Collins


There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon for Endometriosis sufferers

Endometriosis affects over 115,000 women in Ireland, yet treatment options often fall short of providing relief for those battling this condition.

Imagine living with excruciating pain, only to be told it’s normal. That was the reality for me until an emergency room visit revealed an 11 cm cyst on my ovary, marking the beginning of my journey with stage three Endometriosis.

After multiple surgeries and still no concrete treatment plan, I’m left waiting for appointments with specialists and wondering when relief will be achieved – and I’m certainly not alone in this experience.

But amidst the uncertainty, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon with reports of a new non-hormonal treatment trial underway and a successful saliva test on the market in some countries.

So, here’s what we know so far…

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a complex condition that usually affects people from the onset of menstruation right through to menopause.

Tissue may grow in your:

  • ovaries
  • pelvic cavity
  • tummy lining (peritoneum)
  • bladder
  • bowel and ureters (tubes from the kidney to the bladder)

Endometriosis can affect women of any age, although it is allegedly less likely in women after menopause.

It is a long-term condition that can impact people on different levels; Some women can continue to lead a normal life, but for others, endometriosis can have a significant impact on their quality of life.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Painful Menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
  • Pelvic Pain (that radiates down the legs or up the back)
  • Painful Intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Bowel Problems (bloating, constipation, painful bowel movements)
  • Fatigue
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding
  • Painful Urination
  • Infertility

What are the existing treatments in Ireland?

There is currently no cure for endometriosis and it can be difficult to treat, the HSE confirms. There are treatments that can help ease and manage the symptoms of endometriosis and slow down its progression.

Treatment can be given to:

  • relieve pain
  • slow the growth of endometriosis tissue
  • improve fertility
  • reduce the likelihood of the condition returning

Treatments include:

  • painkillers and anti-inflammatories – ibuprofen, paracetamol hormone medicines
  • contraceptives such as the oral contraceptive pill
  • surgery to remove patches of endometriosis tissue, often by keyhole surgery
  • In extreme cases, you may need an operation to remove the endometriosis tissue on the affected organs. Most women with endometriosis will not need an operation to manage their symptoms, the HSE advises. However, your doctor will discuss the best options with you for your situation.

What are the latest breakthrough treatments making headlines?

Recent developments in Scotland showcase a potential breakthrough with a non-hormonal, non-surgical treatment using a drug called dichloroacetate (DCA).

Early results show promising reductions in pain and improvements in quality of life, offering a ray of hope for millions of women worldwide.

Additionally, a saliva test developed by Ziwig could revolutionise the diagnosis, potentially cutting down the agonising wait time from symptoms onset to diagnosis.

In another exciting discovery, a study suggests that Rubus idaeus leaf extract (RiDE) could be a game-changer, offering a non-hormonal treatment option for endometriosis.

Although these treatments aren’t readily available for patients in Ireland there is hope that following extensive trials they may be mainstreamed.

These breakthroughs not only bring hope for a cure but also validate the experiences of those suffering in silence.

It’s a step towards ensuring that women everywhere have access to the care and support they deserve.

While the word around understanding and treating endometriosis continues, these recent advancements show significant milestones in the quest to alleviate the suffering of millions of women worldwide.