We've all heard of the term Endometriosis but how many of us know what this health condition is and how it can affect us?

Endometriosis is a feminine health condition that causes tissue to grow outside the womb. The symptoms of Endometriosis can range from chronic pain to heavy periods and even infertility. Endometriosis is thought to affect one in 10 women across the UK and many won't even realise they are suffering from the illness.

It is a health complaint that is very difficult to diagnose and can take several months or even years to diagnose.

We chat to Andrew Pooley a leading consultant and obstetrician and gynaecologist surgeon at Kingston's New Victoria Hospital’s about the condition and any advice he has for people living with Endometriosis.

If someone thinks they have symptoms, what should they do?

" We always advise that the first step should be to visit your GP, they will refer you to a gynaecology clinic and if it is believed symptoms are severe enough then the patient will be referred for a laparoscopy procedure for further investigation. We recommend every patient should discuss their symptoms and their concerns with their regular GP. A laparoscopy is the only diagnostic test available for endometriosis. And, undergoing this procedure will allow treatment to be given at the same time"

How long can Endometriosis take to diagnose?

“There is a great deal of misleading data around Endometriosis. The symptoms of the illness overlap with many other conditions. For example, painful periods are common for many females whether they have an underlying cause or not. While research shows endometriosis sufferers do suffer from the worst pains, many sufferers won't have any pain at all.

Only up to a third of people who undergo a laparoscopy will be diagnosed with endometriosis. It is common that people who are diagnosed will have a history of painful periods. And, because the only way to diagnose Endometriosis is via an operation, there tends to be hesitancy amongst doctors and patients alike. Therefore a laparoscopy is generally a last resort."

What is a laparoscopy?

"A laparoscopy is an operation when a patient is placed under general anaesthetic, a small camera is inserted into the stomach, just below the belly button. If there is any sign of endometriosis, the doctor will treat it at the same time. During this procedure, there is an opportunity for the fallopian tubes to be examined, then check if endometriosis has any effect on the person's fertility.

Is endometriosis be genetic?

“It is a condition that can be genetic, this isn't always the case. If a woman has one or more direct relatives (i.e mum or sister) with the condition then her chances of a diagnose are higher, but someone who has no family history could also be a sufferer. ”

What symptoms should people be aware of?

“Unfortunately, because symptoms can vary there aren't any stand-out ones that can lead to a diagnosis. It is about being vigilant and watching out for the worst symptoms. These include painful intercourse and painful periods.”