Endometriosis: An Unending Pain
Menstruators are often blissfully unaware of the various menstrual disorders that they or someone close to them could be suffering with. Which is why, you, yes YOU, should use this article as a first step to learning more about them.
Even though before writing this article I wasn’t aware of many disorders that menstruators deal with, after educating myself I was beginning to remove myself from this shell of ignorance. It is extremely important to educate ourselves and bring awareness to such disorders so that menstruators can meet medical professionals and discuss the issues they may be facing. However, I urge you to meet a medical professional if you are facing any concerns, don't suffer in silence and absolutely do not self diagnose or self medicate.
This article highlights one of the many disorders that happen to menstruators. To many of you who are lucky to be unaware of endometriosis, it is a painful chronic disorder that occurs in menstruating women, involving the growth of protrusions outside the ovaries uterus and fallopian tubes.
The ABCs of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is when endometrial tissue usually present in the uterine wall grows outside of it, it’s symptoms include dysmenorrhea (excruciatingly painful period cramps, more painful than normal), and pelvic pain. It is a chronic disorder, and temporary relief can be sought from hormone treatments, more permanent relief from excision surgery. There isn’t a specific ‘cure’ for endometriosis, which is why I mentioned relief rather than cure. In India, over 10 lakh menstruators deal with this disorder yearly.
Will I have to suffer from this unending pain, with no resort?
Hormonal treatments, and laparoscopic surgery (a minimally invasive surgery to remove the protrusions) bring some relief to patients , however, more often than not with these treatments the tissue returns within a year or two. (hence being termed chronic). A more permanent option is the surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) or removal of the uterus (hysterectomy). It can last for a few years if you’re lucky, but for many patients it is a lifelong disorder.
How can I be alert and spot endometriosis?
Unfortunately, for those suffering from it, conception of a child may be more difficult compared to others, with many being infertile due to this disorder. The disorder also causes pelvic pain due to adhesions, where the extra tissue binds itself to other tissues. Other complications include scar formation and irritation. Pelvic pain is the most common symptom but the following symptoms (if occurring together) may necessitate a visit to the gynac; cramps one or two weeks around menstruation, bleeding between periods, infertility, pain following sexual intercourse, discomfort with bowel movements, that may occur at any time during your menstrual cycle. Keep a watch on your cramps too, and alert the gynac if they are more painful than your normal cycle.
Some patients are asymptomatic which is why regular check-ups with a gynaecologist are vital to maintain good menstrual health.
Why does endometriosis occur? And what can we do to prevent it?
The real issue as to why there is no cure for this disease lies in the first question. No one has been able to find a conclusive reason as to why this disease occurs but there have been three prominent theories. Retrograde menstruation is one of them, wherein instead of period blood leaving your body through the vagina it flows into the fallopian tubes. Other beliefs include, the fact that cells in your abdomen grow like embryonic cells, and displaced endometrial cells. Age, family history and menstrual history may put you at a higher risk of contracting this condition but, if you have a complicated history that you are aware of you may have already taken steps to mitigate the chances of this occurring. A common myth associated with why endometriosis occurs is drinking caffeine however there are no direct connections and studies trying to establish connections have come out to be inconclusive.
However, you have no reason to panic or lose hope. This condition does not have to impact your daily life, effective treatments are available to manage it and the symptoms of endometriosis usually subside during menopause.
The following sources where what I used to research this topic; these are articles you should read too:
www.healthline.com/health/endometriosis#outlook --a great resource for menstruators!
Written By: Triya Ghosh
Graphics By: Anashwara Mandalay