The month of March is Endometriosis awareness month and I wanted to bring awareness about this disease where many women are missed and dismissed by multiple healthcare practitioners in the process.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease, by which endometrial like tissue grows outside the endometrium and affects 1 in 10 women. But while the current research says that 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, as someone who specialises in endometriosis management, I believe that these figures may be grossly under exaggerated.
So many women suffer this horrible disease and many more do not even realise they have it. A significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms). Women with this disease may take up to 10 years, or more, to be diagnosed after seeing multiple healthcare practitioners and specialists on the way. This amount of time to diagnosis is disgusting and just highlights how many women are missed and dismissed along the way. Many women are misdiagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other inflammatory disease states, when in fact the actually have endometriosis. I know that if this disease affected some of these so called healthcare practitioners, or if men had to endure this kind of pain, or their testicles were paining them all day, something would have been done about this disease long ago.
Meanwhile women with period pain caused by endometriosis have to live a life of pain, trauma and physical and emotional torment. Many of these women are barely getting through a day, let alone a whole month of exhausting symptoms related to this disease. Some are even at the point of suicide.
Endometriosis is mostly found outside the endometrium and can spread to the pelvis, bowel, bladder and intestines. It has even been known to get into the brain, joints, chest cavity, and around the heart. It has been found in nearly every part of the body.
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist Guidelines for the Management of Endometriosis, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
- Irregular bleeding
- Period Pain
- Pain with sex
- Ovulation Pain
- Irritable bowel like symptoms
- Bladder issues (UTI like symptoms etc)
- Chronic fatigue
- Swollen painful pregnant looking belly (known as endo belly)
- Pain with bowel movement
I am a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist with over 20 years experience in the diagnosis, treatment and managing endometriosis. I have helped women all over the world with this horrible disease. I know all too well the trials and tribulations women have to go through before someone actually listens and gives these poor women a proper diagnosis and get them the help they so desperately need.
“Period pain IS NOT normal” and all too often women are told that period pain and other associated symptoms is normal and nothing could be further from the truth. We need to educate women and young girls that period pain is not normal.
I would like to see better education and awareness for the general public, but I would also like better education and awareness for all healthcare professionals. I want all healthcare professionals to know what the signs and symptoms of endometriosis are so that women can be referred for appropriate treatment and management. Early intervention and treatment is the key to treating this disease and managing it properly
No woman should ever be missed, or dismissed with this horrible disease every again. Let’s end the silence on endometriosis and bring awareness to every woman and healthcare practitioner on this planet that period pain IS NOT normal.
Dr Andrew Orr
Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist
-No Stone Left Unturned
-Period Pain IS NOT Normal