With all kinds of awareness days and women’s history celebration, March was truly packed with all sorts educational moments. As it comes to an end, we decided to look at the last, but certainly not the least, educational moment distinct to March and it is the awareness of endometriosis. It is an ailment that affects any woman of reproductive age all around the world irrespective of race and ethnicity. Approximately, 1.5 million women in the UK are diagnosed with it and about 176 million women around the world are too.
Endometriosis is a condition where the cells found in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) develop in other parts of the body such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel or stomach. These cells all follow the menstrual cycle which means that they act the same way the cells in the womb regardless of their growth area. Over the cycle, blood accumulates in these areas but unlike the womb, the blood has no passage to escape the body like a regular period. This leads to either periods with heavy blood flow or painful periods. It can also lead to infertility, fatigue, inflammation and the formation of scar tissue. A definite cause of the disease has yet to be found. However, there are various suggestions that can increase the likelihood of it, like one’s genetic history (running in the family) or a particularly weak immune system.
It is a disease with no known cure. There are treatments available that attempt to make the condition and its symptoms more tolerable. Symptoms could be persistent pain, fatigue, depression, problems in sexual relationships or an inability or difficulty to conceive. It is important to note that these symptoms do not necessarily affect every patient nor does the condition affect women in one particular way which is why some women are can still conceive children without issue whereas others may struggle.
The treatments available usually serve to alleviate pain or improve one’s fertility. The selection of treatment is dependent on each individual preference and each method can be discussed by gynaecologists to understand all possible outcomes, positive and negative. Depending on the severity of the pain, certain treatments like a surgical procedure, may or may not be recommended. Treatment options are not restricted to medicinal routes but include heat application to pain, such as a hot water bottle and physiotherapy where women can have a tailored exercise programme to reduce pain, strengthen pelvic floor muscles while learning how to manage anxiety or stress.
It can be debilitating to live with incurable pain and persistent disease but massive support structures such as 24/7 online forums, have been made available for the support of women’s mental health, information about the condition and more techniques to improve living, which can be found below. Constant research is being done to better understand the condition which will aid in the possibility of a cure.
From the heart of BWiS, we assure you that you are not alone. So hands in because we are all in this together!
More information on Endometriosis:
Understanding Endometriosis, Endometriosis UK
Helpline, Endometriosis UK
Support Groups, Endometriosis UK
24/7 Online Forum, Health Unlocked