Now aged 27, the sportswoman has undergone surgery to address endometriosis – an “ongoing issue” that Danielle Collins has said negatively impacted her ability to perform on the tennis court. In an Instagram post, Danielle wrote: “This has been an ongoing issue for quite some time. Unfortunately, it has been affecting my overall day-to-day life in a way that has caused too much physical agony, and is negatively impacting my ability to perform consistently.”
What is endometriosis?
The charity Endometriosis UK explained that cells, similar to the ones found in the lining of the womb, are found elsewhere in the body, such as the ovaries or Fallopian tubes.
Each month these cells react the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down.
“Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape,” the charity explained.
This then leads to inflammation in the body, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods
- Pain during or after sex
- Painful bowel movements
Symptoms can vary in intensity from one woman to another, and other signs of the condition might include:
- Heavy periods with or without clots
- Prolonged bleeding
- Bleeding from the bowel
- Pain during an internal examination
- “Spotting” or bleeding between periods
- Diarrhoea, constipation, and bloating
- Back pain
- Pain when passing urine
- Leg pain
- Pelvic pain
- Loss of “old” or “dark blood” before period
Following her win at Roland Garros, Danielle said: “I’ve had a handful of different women that have reached out to me, friends, family, people that I don’t know, that I’ve never met that have been affected by endometriosis.
“I think just being able to talk about it with other women is empowering.”
The NHS stated: “Endometriosis can affect women of any age” – and it’s advisable for anybody suffering from symptoms to see their GP.
For an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis, a laparoscopy needs to take place.
This is when a surgeon passes a thin tube through a small cut in the stomach so that they can see any patches of endometriosis tissue.
While there’s no cure for the condition, treatment can include taking painkillers, hormone medicines, and surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue.
Another option is to have part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis removed; this may include a hysterectomy (removing the womb).
What causes endometriosis?
The exact cause behind the condition is not yet understood, but several theories have been put forward.
For instance, it’s believed that endometrium cells spread through the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system – a series of tubes and glands that form part of the immune system.
There does seem to be a genetic link too, as the condition seemingly runs in families.
Another theory is of “retrograde menustration”, which is when some of the womb lining flows up through the Fallopian tubes and embeds itself on the organs of the pelvis.
Endometriosis can also lead to ovarian cysts, which are “fluid-filled cysts in the ovaries” that can grow larger in size and become painful.
Another potential health complication is when “sticky” endometriosis tissue can join organs together.
Although these complications can be treated with surgery, they may return in the future.