What if it was more than period pain…Could it be endometriosis?
A period is a normal, healthy part of a woman’s life, but being bed-bound due to period pain for days every month is not typical and can affect the quality of life1.
Painful menstruation (or dysmenorrhea) is a global problem, and it is experienced by 50–90% of women in their reproductive years2. Chronic pelvic pain affects high number of women: 15% in the U.S. and 24% in the U.K1. (2) Almost half of them may have been diagnosed with endometriosis1.
Endometriosis corresponds to the presence of tissue similar to the womb’s lining outside the uterus3. The pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, uterine ligaments, bladder, and intestines are among the affected areas3. Sometimes endometriosis can be found outside the pelvis4.
1 in 10* WOMEN ARE AFFECTED BY ENDOMETRIOSIS5
Symptoms associated with endometriosis vary and include a combination of5:
- period related-pain
- difficulty conceiving or infertility
- pain during and after sexual intercourse
- chronic pelvic pain
- painful bowel movements
- painful urination
- depression or anxiety
Symptoms often improve after menopause, but in some cases, painful symptoms can persist5.
Listen to your body
When symptoms appear, don’t ignore them and seek support1-3.
A qualitative interview-based study of 32 women with pelvic pain have shown that delayed diagnosis appears to be influenced by the women’s inability to distinguish clearly between “normal” and “abnormal” menstrual experiences1. Having had “difficult periods” from menarche, the women consider their experiences normal1. Although they recognize their periods as problematic and often disruptive to their life, they perceive this as an extreme of normality, believing themselves to be “unlucky” rather than ill1.
Preferring to accommodate rather than disclose their pain, women develop strategies for coping on their own1. They often withdraw from social activities, spend time in bed, and sometimes take potentially harmful levels of analgesics1.
Seek medical advice
Endometriosis cannot be cured, but it can be managed5. As most women with endometriosis report the onset of symptoms during adolescence, early referral, diagnosis, identification of disease and treatment may mitigate pain, prevent disease progression and thus preserve fertility6.
Discuss the symptoms with your doctor and then with specialists. They should recommend the most suitable treatment for your condition.
*About one in ten women (about 10% of women in their reproductive age and girls globally) in their reproductive years is affected by endometriosis, corresponding to 190 million women worldwide5.
1. Ballard K, Lowton K, Wright J. What’s the delay? A qualitative study of women’s experiences of reaching a diagnosis of endometriosis. Fertil Steril. 2006;86(5):1296-1301.
2. Bakhsh H., Algenaimi E., Aldhuwayhi R. et al. Prevalence of dysmenorrhea among reproductive age group in Saudi Women. BMC Women’s Health 22, 78 (2022).
3. Kaveh M, Tahermanesh K, Mehdizadeh Kashi A, Tajbakhsh B, Mansouri GH, Sadegi K. Endometriosis of Diaphragm: A Case Report. Int J Fertil Steril. 2018;12(3):263-266.
4. Hirata T. et.al. Clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of extragenital endometriosis in Japan. J. Obstet. Gynaecol. Res., 2018; 46:2474-2487.
5. World Health Organization (WHO). Endometriosis. Key facts. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis. [Accessed 9 June 2021].
6. Parasar P, Ozcan P, Terry KL. Endometriosis: Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Clinical Management. Curr Obstet Gynecol Rep. 2017;6(1):34-41.