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Treatment for Endometriosis: How Long Does It Take and What Is the Success Rate?

If not treated, endometriosis can lead to severe complications. However, many women continue to suffer in silence and don't get the treatment they require. Some of them ignore the symptoms, other - don't believe the pain get away. We asked Krina Zondervan to tell us when it's time to seek treatment and how long it will take to recover. 

When is it time to see the doctor?

First of all, I would say that if women have been suffering for a long time with pain already which impacts their work, which impacts their family, that is a very important consideration, and therefore, seeking treatment is likely to be the best thing to do to try and break that cycle of monthly pains.

Secondly, how quickly you’ll get treatment and how effective it is depends on many factors. First of all, how quickly you get treatment is likely to be both country- and region-specific, so it's always worth checking whether there is a center locally that specializes in endometriosis. 

The problem often is — I can speak for the UK, but this is the same in other countries — that the waiting list is long for surgery. It is worth checking that and seeing if there are different clinics out there to choose from. 

How long does it take?

That is a very difficult question to answer because that is dependent on the situation locally. In terms of treatment, as I have said before, the initial treatment is usually seeing how symptoms improve with hormones, for example. 

That usually happens at the level of the local family practitioner — the GP. I think it is important if you feel that, after a number of months, this is not working for you to go back quickly and to say, “OK, can you refer me to someone who might be a specialist in this area?” 

I think going back to your doctor and being very clear on, “I'm continuing to have these symptoms, and what you've given me, unfortunately, does not work” — I think that's really, really important. I think women often worry too much about making that statement. 

In terms of a laparoscopy, although it is under general anesthesia, this is an operation that many women recover from just in a matter of days. It is not comparable to, for example, a large abdominal operation. So although you shouldn't take a laparoscopy necessarily lightly, it is a really standard approach to try and see what is going on. 

I would say the sooner a diagnosis is established, often, the, better because the other aspect of this is that if women have chronic pain for many many years that is not treated properly, that does not just affect their lives, but also affects the way they start perceiving pain. 

There is a lot of research out there currently, and a lot of evidence, that once you have any type of chronic pain, your body, your central nervous system, starts reacting differently to pain perception. So it then becomes much more likely that you will have a lower pain threshold that makes you more prone to experience pain more excessively. 

There are a lot of women with pelvic pain who also experience headaches and experience other types of pain. And the evidence is that it’s probably because your central nervous system is starting to get sensitised, and therefore, the sooner you try and break that cycle, ultimately the better it is for long-term outcome. It is a long answer to say that is probably why early diagnosis is important to try and prevent a lot of problems later on.

On a final note

Suspect you might have endometriosis? Don't hesitate to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Endometriosis is not something you should quietly put up with; instead, make the first step towards getting better and speak to your GP as soon as possible.

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