Endometriosis: From Awareness to Action

Come March and the focus shifts back to endometriosis as it is celebrated internationally as endometriosis awareness month. 89 million young women of reproductive age all over the world suffer from this silent disease day after day, year after year. To put it in very simple words, endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus—in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels and the bladder. So, when you have your periods, this tissue swells and bleeds into the abdominal and pelvic cavities but does not leave the body and causes intense pain.  But the question is, despite every effort taken to raise awareness on this issue, people are still not comfortable talking about it.  More and more women struggle with the symptoms silently finding it extremely difficult to get through a single day and yet don’t consult a doctor mistaking it for menstrual cramps that will pass on with time.

Endometriosis Statistics In India - You Are Not Alone

The most dangerous aspect of endometriosis is that it takes approximately 7.5 years from the time the symptoms show up to the time the condition is actually diagnosed. According to an article in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research (June 2015), 25 to 30 percent of infertile women are known to suffer from endometriosis and 30 to 50 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile. Therefore endometriosis can’t be taken lightly.

Why is Endometriosis Not Openly Talked About?

One reason why endometriosis still doesn’t get the desired attention is the whole range of myths that surround the disease. Some of these include the idea that the symptoms are something that one has to live with and nothing can be done to do away with the pain. Some think that teenagers cannot be possibly be affected and even if they do, once they get married and get pregnant they will get relief from the problem. Some even go to the extent to believe that endometriosis makes a woman infertile and hysterectomy is the only available cure. Well…all these myths are far from truth and only aim at shoving the issue under the carpet and divert the attention from the main issue.

Also Read -  A true survival story of a lady who bravely fought both endometriosis and infertility.

When Should You See A Doctor?

Our endeavor through this article is to nudge women to come forward and get themselves checked if they experience unusual pain either during periods or during sex. This is not common and will not pass with time. Medical intervention is necessary. Other symptoms that you might want to watch out for are:

  • Painful urination/bowel movement during periods
  • Very heavy bleeding during periods
  • Tiredness
  • Pain in lower back
  • Frequent allergies
  • Frequent yeast infections

Also remember that endometriosis may be a cause for infertility, but in most cases it is largely a contributing factor rather than the main cause.

Endometriosis and Fertility: Is There a Connection?

Endometriosis is often associated with infertility but the strange coincidence is that many fertile women are also known to suffer from the disease. Some studies say that infertility and delayed pregnancy could be possible causes for endometriosis rather than endometriosis causing infertility. But there is no confirmation on this.

It is felt that in severe cases of the disease pelvic anatomy gets distorted with damaged and blocked tubes. There may be cysts in the ovaries that adhere to the uterus, bowel or pelvic wall. In some women, eggs in the ovaries could be damaged due to endometriosis. Al these could ultimately make way for infertility.

Alternative Cure For Endometriosis

Most doctors resort to surgery only as the last option. They begin treatment through medicines and injections to start with.

  • They suggest anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen/naproxen.
  • If that doesn’t work, they administer progesterone as an injection/pill or through an intra-uterine device.
  • For women with endometriosis who wish to conceive, doctors may suggest gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist. The purpose of this is to stop the hormones responsible for ovulation or menstruation. In other words, it causes a menopause like situation. When medications are stopped and periods return, a woman has better chances to get pregnant.
  • Sometimes, birth control pills are also used to get relief from pain associated with endometriosis. These slow down the growth of ectopic endometrial tissue. However, this is not a permanent solution. Symptoms might recur once the medications are stopped.
  • Some doctors recommend Danazol, but it has severe side effects. It prevents formation of ovarian stimulating hormones but it is highly risky for women on Danazol to get pregnant.
  • Surgery is usually the last resort when none of the above medications help. Laparoscopy helps remove the endometrial tissues outside the uterus. Hysterectomy can also be performed to remove the uterus and cervix.

Choose A Healthy Diet

There really is no absolute cure for endometriosis, but a healthy diet goes a long way to give you relief from symptoms. Avoid fatty foods like red meat, refined sugar, cakes and cookies, caffeine and alcohol. Keep away from non-fermented soy products like soy milk and cheese that are high in estrogen which impacts body’s hormonal balance and aggravate symptoms. Indulge in foods rich in fiber such as fruits (apples, pears, and plums), lentils, whole grains and flax seeds. Don’t forget to include dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, beetroot, nuts, eggs, tofu, beans and brown rice. Lastly, remember to exercise regularly.

Endometriosis Video Information

Video Credits: Endometrios.org | Vimeo

It is not enough to be informed about endometriosis and forget it when March makes way to April. We must pledge to listen to our bodies and consult a doctor everytime something seems going astray. Also, equally important is to offer a helping hand to those suffering from endometriosis. Sometimes, a little understanding goes a long way to help cope with the symptoms. Your loved ones may be a little hesitant to discuss about the symptoms openly, but make sure you don’t judge them. Rather offer soothing words of solace to help them cope with the illness better.

Let us start early and help spread awareness to stay healthy not just for a month but for many more years to come.




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