In Ghana, March is often a month we focus on celebrating the end of colonial rule and the dawn of our independence. However, for a large proportion of the world’s population, March plays an entirely different role, which is linked to growing awareness of a condition called Endometriosis.
1. One in ten women suffer from endometriosis.
2. Current estimates indicate 176 million women have the condition.
3. It can affect girls and women from as young as fifteen years.
4. Infertility is present in 30-50% of patients.
5. The cause is unknown.
What actually is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is simply where the tissue that resembles the lining of the uterus (womb) is found in places outside the uterus. The tissue is stored by the body’s immune cells, which react negatively to it, causing pain and inflammation. This pain and inflammation are aggravated by the growth of foreign tissue and its response to female hormones.
It is estimated that one (1) in ten (10) women of childbearing age (between fifteen and forty-nine years ) suffer from this disease. In this context, endometriosis affects around 176 million women worldwide. Also, it is a long-term condition that has a significant impact on a patient’s life and well-being.
The symptoms of endometriosis are:
1. Severe dysmenorrhea.
2. Long-term low back and pelvic pain.
3. A period that lasts more than 7 days.
4. Heavy menstrual bleeding requiring pad or tampon replacement every 1-2 hours.
5. Bowel and urinary problems (pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc.).
6. Bloody stools or urine.
7. Nausea and vomiting.
8. Pain during sex.
Other medical conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can mimic the symptoms of endometriosis.
1. infertility, which can affect up to 50 percent of people with the disease.
2. increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
3. Ovarian cyst.
4. intestinal and bladder complications.
5. scar tissue and adhesion development.
To avoid future complications, seek medical attention regarding symptoms.
Surgery is possible but is usually only considered if other treatments are not effective.
Other options include:
1. Pain relievers – Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or prescription drugs to treat painful periods.
2. Hormones: Treatment may be with hormonal therapies such as hormonal contraception, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists and antagonists, medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera), or danazol.
3. Surgery: The initial surgery will seek to remove areas of endometriosis, but a hysterectomy with removal of both ovaries may be necessary.
4. Lastly, fertility treatment.
Gareth N, (2020). Endometriosis: 1 in 10 women suffer, so why don’t we know about it? Available at www1.chester.ac.uk.