Endometriosis: Let's Talk About It

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From an early age, women and other people with a uterus are taught to tolerate period pain. The cramping, uncomfortable sensation of feeling like your body is attacking you is something people that menstruate must come to understand as being a simple part of reality. Coupled with the social taboo of talking about your period, it becomes normal to pop an aspirin or ibuprofen and hope the day goes by swiftly. 

However, the culture we created surrounding periods - in which they are something to be hidden or even ashamed of -  has led to a toxicity beneath the surface. When it comes to women’s health, specifically gynecological diseases such as endometriosis, the symptoms can be brushed under the rug as natural menstrual pain. Even though 6.3 million women and other people with a uterus are affected by endometriosis in the United States, it is still widely unknown. This lack of understanding about endometriosis has led to 61% of patients being told by health care providers that nothing was wrong with them.

Programs like SpeakENDO build a social awareness of gynecological diseases, like endometriosis. However, the stigma and unawareness surrounding women’s health forces the patients themselves to be aware of how their bodies work. This article breaks down the mystery surrounding endometriosis and gives tips on how to take control of your well-being:

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful disease that occurs from the uterine lining tissue, or what surrounds the womb, being present in other organs outside the uterus. It is most common in the lower abdomen and pelvis area, but it can be found anywhere in the body.

 

What are some of the symptoms of endometriosis?

Women’s Health broke down the symptoms of endometriosis which are listed as:

  • Pain: The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain. The different types of pain include overly painful menstrual cramping which may get progressively worse over time, long-term pain in the lower back, pain during or after sexual intercourse, and painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods.
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • Not being able to get pregnant
  • Digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.

It’s also important to note that the list of symptoms is not a checklist. A person with endometriosis does not have to experience every symptom to be diagnosed. You can take this quiz on SpeakENDO to go through possible symptoms you may have.

 

 

I think I have endometriosis. What do I do?

The most important thing to do if you think you have endometriosis is talk to a healthcare professional. Since endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed and can be dismissed as a “bad period,” it is important to be clear about your symptoms and the extent of pain you experience. Use this discussion guide for some pointers on language to use when talking to a healthcare professional.

 

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Depending on the symptoms and healthcare professional, women may go through one or more of these steps:  pelvic exam, ultrasound, blood test, treatment or surgery.

 

How is endometriosis treated?

While there is still no cure for endometriosis, there are several steps people can take to relieve pain. It is important to be clear to your healthcare professional so you can get the best treatment for your unique situation. In addition to prescribed endometriosis treatment, many women use heating pads, eat certain foods or exercise to help ease symptoms.

Gynecological diseases like endometriosis can be difficult to spot and understand. However, by raising awareness, whether or not you have been personally affected by endometriosis, we can create society where we can openly talk about women’s health and well-being. For more information and resources about endometriosis, visit https://www.speakendo.com/.

 

Sources: 

SpeakENDO: https://www.speakendo.com/

Teen Vogue "Endometriosis Is Going Undiagnosed Due to the Normalization of Menstrual Pain" 

Women's Health

 

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