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Did you know that painful period or painful sexual intercourse might actually be something else? It might be something medically referred to as Endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis?
Certain tissues, called the endometrium, grow inside the uterus, normally. That is part of what gets shed when a female sees her period. But this situation could happen differently, abnormally. The endometrium could also grow on and in other parts of the internal organs, outside the uterus.
So when a woman’s period is on and the linings of her uterus get shed, the endometrium growing outside the uterus also become active and begin to bleed too. This bleeding makes the internal tissues and organs they have bled over to adhere together.
The situation causes a chronic, very debilitating, very intense pain in the pelvic region and other internal organs. This condition is what is referred to as Endometriosis. It is one of the biggest causes of infertility.
As a start, visit your gynecologist and have the cause of the pains you feel during sex or period checked out. Due to the fact that Endometriosis is not seen in a scan or X-ray, the most accurate way to diagnose Endometriosis is via a laparoscopy. Fret not, it’s a small procedure and not as scary as the name sounds. Laparoscopy is just a keyhole surgery where a small camera is inserted into the stomach to see if Endometriosis exists within and how far spread it is. You can have a laparoscopy and be discharged the same day, it also leaves very little scarring.
No cure for this disease exists yet, and science does not seem any closer to getting a cure now than they were 10 years ago. One thing is key, endometriosis, on its own, does not kill. Please take some time to read up on it.
Women with endometriosis suffer on various levels – the actual physical pain, and then the emotional pain.
Many people misunderstand women in general and women with endometriosis in particular. Every day we hear people mock women who exhibit certain irritable behaviors. They laugh at them saying “she is PMSing” or “maybe she is on her period”. These irritable behaviors could be as a consequence of the mind numbing pains they are enduring. Someone once told me the pains from endometriosis are more intense than that from child birth. Women, by their nature, require more understanding from us. Women suffering from endometriosis require even higher levels of understanding.
The mere fact that someone who has been diagnosed with “endo” feels pain that nobody seems to understand could lead to depression.
Then there is the case of infertility. Nothing kills a woman psychologically more than the fact that she might not be able to have kids. Every time she sees kids, or she sees her friends pregnant, she might get gloomy. Endometriosis can sometimes block the fallopian tubes. This means an ovary can’t travel down to meet a sperm cell and get fertilized. This, beyond the pains, is one of the major damages that this diseases causes.
But all hope is not lost. A woman with endometriosis could actually still get pregnant. I recently spoke to a woman who was diagnosed with the disease when she was in her twenties. She has kids now. She conceived naturally. Even for those who can’t conceive naturally, science has invented IVF to sort this. So please smile dear warriors.
This disease can affect anyone of any colour, of any race, of any age. I recently saw a Caucasian girl on Instagram. She was recently diagnosed of endo. She is just 14 years old.
It is neither a curse from someone, nor a generational curse. It is not something you brought upon yourself. It is a disease caused by various factors, all of which a woman has no control over. No one knows why one female gets endometriosis and the other doesn’t. No one knows a proper and accurate cure for it.
As a partner, you need to show a lot of compassion for your spouse. She needs all the support and understanding that you can muster, and more. There will be those nights you will wake up and realize the whole bed is soaked in blood. There will be those times she will wake you up in the middle of the night crying and writhing in pain. You should help her through this by knowing what to do to sooth her pains. It could be as simple as filling her hot water bottle, or massaging the area close to her pelvic. All of this could ease the pain. She might become turned off sex, simply because of the amount of pain she has to deal with whenever you guys make love. Please, do show understanding.
She could get ill many times over, in very bad cases, she might be ill every time. Very likely she is in and out of hospital most of the time. You just need to know you both are in it together and have to defeat the condition together.
Endometriosis does not last forever. At some point in a patient’s life, her period will cease to be active, so also the endometriums – endo leaves forever at the onset of menopause.
The statistics available say 1 out of 7 women suffer from the disease, about 170 million worldwide. But it just dawned on me that those numbers could be higher, especially in Nigeria where society, culture, and our attitudes never allow us follow through on these things. People do not want to go have medical checkups because of the fear of what they might find. They don’t want to seek help because of the fear of stigma, they don’t get adequate treatment because they believe they believe they can pray their way through it. Don’t get me wrong, prayer works, but medicine is there just to assist prayer in working.
I hope this article, not in any way an authoritative piece, will bring more attention to endometriosis, make more people talk about it and make people seek for more knowledge about it. This could build a more formidable coalition that will join in putting pressure on science to find a cure.
To every woman on every corner of the earth silently and doggedly fighting the pain and trauma of endometriosis, you are a true warrior, remain defiant, remain #endostrong. We love you so much.
Article written by Henry Okelue
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