Most women with endometriosis are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 40, though “it can affect any woman who has started her periods so this age bracket is not always the most common,” said Lucy Tully, a spokeswoman for the charity Endometriosis UK.
“Endometriosis is much more likely to occur if someone in your immediate family has it.”
A laparoscopy is the only way to unequivocally confirm an endometriosis diagnosis. For Cluff, it ended up serving another purpose, too.
“Three weeks before my A level exams I had the procedure and the surgeon found endometriosis in the Douglas pouch (the area between the rectum and back wall of uterus) and removed it successfully,” said Cluff.
“Luckily it wasn't serious enough for it to have affected my fertility, which obviously was a massive concern. I have since gone on to experience some discomfort, but I am now able to control it through medication.”
There is currently no cure for the condition. There are, however, “plenty of options available in treating patients with endometriosis,” said Janesh Gupta, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Birmingham, Birmingham Women's Hospital.
Pain medication is the generally the first thing doctors suggest to alleviate the Pain often associated with endometriosis. Hormone treatment is another option that can actually stop the tissue’s growth. Because of side effects, though, hormones are not an option for women who are interested in becoming pregnant.
In severe cases, surgery can be performed to alleviate the Pain by removing the patches of endometriosis. Women who have not responded to any other treatment may consider undergoing a hysterectomy, including the removal of both ovaries - but this is generally only done as a last resort.