We need to raise the awareness for Endometriosis, a disease that affects 1 out of 10 women. A lot of people are not aware of the disease because most sufferers are ashamed to share their experiences…This blog is dedicated to a brave soul and a sister called Tebogo Kekana who is raising awareness of this dreadful disease!
People ask ‘What is Endometriosis, I’ve never heard of it???’….Let us unpack it here and hope you learn.
Endometriosis is a disease that affects women of child-bearing age but it is believed it can be present in young girls too. It is estimated that 176 million women worldwide have endometriosis. The number could be more as it is believed some women are undiagnosed. Whilst it does not cause death, living with it is hell for the women who have it, as it caused excruciating pain. Some people have equated the pain to that of giving birth in women who have severe endometriosis.
It is the abnormal growth of endometrial cells (normally found in the inside lining of the womb) outside the womb. These abnormal implants can be found in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, other surfaces of the womb, intestines, peritoneal cavity, vagina, cervix, pelvic cavity, bladder, liver, rectum, lungs, and brain.
During periods, the endometrium is supposed to break and be discarded by the body through menstruation via the vagina. However, some of the pieces of the endometrium leave the womb through upper openings of the womb into the fallopian tubes, and ultimately into the peritoneal cavity. The pieces then attach themselves to the peritoneum and start growing there. This results in the endometrium growing outside the womb and causing Endometriosis.
It not clear what causes endometriosis but scientific research suggests it may be hereditary in most cases.
Endometriosis can only be diagnosed with certainty through a laparoscopy, where a thin scope with light on the end is inserted into a woman’s abdomen through a small incision next to the belly button. This allows the doctor to see inside the abdomen and check for endometrial growths. These growths can be sent to the laboratory for pathological examination.
Severe menstrual pain;
– Irregular periods
– Chronic lower back pain
– Pain during or after sex
– Intestinal pain
– Painful or bloody bowel movements
– Spotting between periods
– Chronic fatigue
– Swelling of legs/feet
There is no cure for it. The only available treatment options are:
- Surgical Treatment:
Surgical therapies for the treatment of endometriosis are
– laparoscopy (less invasive procedure involving removal of endometrial implants through laser using a small camera)
– laparotomy (more invasive procedure involving opening of the abdominal wall through a large incision to remove implants), and
– hysterectomy (which I am strongly opposed to – is the removal of the womb).
- Medical Treatment:
– Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium are commonly prescribed to relieve pelvic pain and menstrual pains associated with endometriosis. Please note these are only for pain and will not make the implants disappear.
– Hormonal treatments like Danazol – these are aimed at reducing the amount of oestrogen that your body makes.
– Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) – makes the body to stop producing hormones that are responsible for ovulation (it is like inducing menopause)
– Progestins like Visanne – these reduce the effects of oestrogen on the endometrium, thereby reducing inflammation and related pain.
Testimony of an Endo sufferer:
Tebogo says: “Did you know I have an average of two surgical procedures in a year to alleviate the pain Endometriosis causes me? I have been on Danazol (it’s an androgen based treatment) and I was literally turning into a ma (my voice deepened, my feet grew, I grew a moustache, etc). I have also been on the newly developed Visanne but my endometriomas doubled in size while on that treatment. The only treatment that I seem to be responding well to (if having two surgeries a year is responding well) is surgery. My stomach looks like a battlefield with all the scars. I NEED A CURE!
No matter what your gynaecologist says, DO NOT ever agree to having your womb removed if you still would like to bear children. Scientific research has shown that removal of the womb is not a guaranteed cure for endometriosis. In my case, I have recto-vaginal endometriosis. The endometriosis has spread to my rectum and a hysterectomy is not an option. I have had affected pieces of my rectum cut twice and my stance is let them rather cut a piece of my uterus until there is nothing left. Say no to your organs being removed. #EndometriosisAwareness“