Although some people think that endometriosis is a disease that only affects adult women, there is no mistaking the fact that young girls and teenagers can be affected by endometriosis.

Endometriosis can affect all women of childbearing age: at 15, 25, 35 and over. Teenage girls can therefore experience symptoms indicating endometriosis from their first period.

Moreover, according to EndoFrance, women with endometriosis interviewed often refer to severe pain in their teens, having not been treated. This ignorance of the disease by family and friends and by doctors among the youngest patients is therefore not an isolated occurrence, and may be explained in part by a lack of knowledge of the disease a few years ago, and by strong preconceived ideas (link to preconceived ideas about endometriosis), which are deeply rooted in our society: “periods hurt, it’s normal“.

Is endometriosis in teenagers less serious?

Although pain in young girls is sometimes underestimated or even ignored, it is no less intense.

Having intense pain at the time of your period when you are young does not necessarily mean you have endometriosis, fortunately, especially as the first menstrual cycles are known to be more painful. Nevertheless, perimenstrual recurrent pain, associated with absenteeism due to this pain, headaches and/or recurrent fatigue in teenage girls should be managed appropriately and as early as possible, as in adult women. Endometriosis in adolescents is not “more serious” or “less serious”, but should be observed and monitored.

LUNA HELPS :

LUNA offers you the LunaEndoScore® test, the CE-certified medical device to help diagnose endometriosis, which will enable you to find out your own risk of endometriosis by completing a questionnaire based on medical expertise.

When should you suspect endometriosis in adolescents?

There are certain warning signs:

  1. The first sign is and will remain intense pain during the menstrual period, particularly if it is resistant to painkillers (e.g. Paracetamol) or an antispasmodic (e.g. Spasfon).
  2. Pelvic pain present at each cycle may intensify with time. In this case, it is necessary to consult quickly. We advise you to pay particular attention to the evolution of the symptoms.
  3. As mentioned above, pain during menstruation often has repercussions and can be accompanied by signals that confirm the presence of a pathology of the menstrual cycle, such as endometriosis: headaches, fatigue, school absenteeism, malaise, vomiting, etc.

According to Dr Jean-Philippe Estrade, gynaecological surgeon specialising in endometriosis and co-founder of LUNA, “Period pains causing migraines and absenteeism from school is endometriosis until proven otherwise*.

*An opinion from a gynaecologist familiar with the disease is necessary to confirm or deny the diagnosis.

What to do when a teenager has endometriosis?

First of all: do not panic or worry! The earlier endometriosis is diagnosed, the better the quality of life and fertility can be maintained. Some forms of endometriosis do not progress, and in any case not quickly, and can even regress.

The first thing to do is to open up a dialogue with the girl if you observe signs that might suggest endometriosis. If it is someone close to you, your child, your sister, make sure that the girl feels confident to talk about her symptoms and emotions with you. Be present, and accompany her in an information process, in order to consider a diagnosis by a health professional. Knowing and recognising the disease are important steps, especially at the beginning of the treatment process, and generally make it easier to discuss the subject.

In the second stage, if the symptoms mentioned are present and frequent, and have an impact on the girl’s daily life, it is recommended that a doctor be consulted as soon as possible, so that he or she can confirm, or not, the pathology, refer to a specialist doctor and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

School nurses also have an important role to play. Increasingly aware of endometriosis.

How is endometriosis diagnosed in an adolescent girl?

The diagnosis of endometriosis in a young girl is based initially on a targeted interview by a health professional, just as for an adult woman: frequency and intensity of pain, impact on quality of life, etc.

The doctor will check in particular whether the pain is regular, whether it reacts to analgesics and/or whether recourse to anti-inflammatory drugs is frequent, whether the pain causes absenteeism from school, etc.

A clinical examination by the doctor is not compulsory.

Furthermore, if the adolescent has not had sexual intercourse, an endovaginal ultrasound cannot be performed. Only a pelvic ultrasound can be performed, if necessary.

If an ultrasound and/or MRI is performed at the doctor’s request, it must be done by a radiologist specialising in endometriosis:

  • The first-line examination, the pelvic ultrasound, will be used to observe a potential uterine malformation, or cysts in the ovaries (endometriomas)
  • Endovaginal ultrasound can only be performed if the girl has already had sexual intercourse as a reminder. However, the lesions may still be too small (incipient, so-called “superficial”) to be seen by this examination, depending on the patient’s age. This does not mean that they do not exist.

If there is any doubt, the doctor may ask for an MRI scan to refine the data and the diagnosis. This examination makes it possible to see the location of the lesions.

What are the treatments for endometriosis in adolescents?

If endometriosis is suspected in a teenager, the doctor will suggest taking painkillers during periods of intense pain, and/or hormone treatment, often a continuous oestroprogestogenic pill, to stop menstruation (amenorrhoea).

Hormonal treatment aims to reduce pain and limit the evolution of the disease. Like any treatment, it may have side effects, especially at the beginning of the treatment. If they impact daily life and/or persist after several months of treatment, it is important to report them so that the treatment can be re-evaluated with your doctor.

The disease may stabilise and the symptoms may diminish under the influence of the treatment. Some forms may also evolve and continue to impact daily life. A different treatment strategy should be considered with the doctor.

Surgery is not recommended for adolescent girls, and should be delayed as much as possible, or avoided if possible.

So-called “soft” or “alternative” medicines can be a complement to the treatments prescribed by the doctor, in order to live better with endometriosis on a daily basis: naturopathy, yoga, meditation, sophrology, physiotherapy, osteopathy, etc. (put the links of the articles)

CONCLUSION

Endometriosis is a complex disease and can be even more so for young girls who are facing physical and psychological changes.

So-called “soft” or “alternative” medicines can be a complement to the treatments prescribed by the doctor, in order to live better with endometriosis on a daily basis: naturopathy, yoga, meditation, sophrology, physiotherapy, osteopathy etc.

To support teenagers, you can find several associations, as well as books to help you better understand the disease.

read also : The Diagnosis Of Endometriosis?