Endometriosis is a serious illness that affects nearly 176 million women in the world. However, it takes 7.5 years, on average, for it to be diagnosed.
Why is it so? Let’s find out.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is a disease that causes the tissue in the lining of the womb to grow outside the uterus. It can grow around the reproductive organs, bowel, and bladder. This tissue is the exact same as that found in the lining of the womb. Thus, it builds up and bleeds every month. However, the blood does not have an escape route. Thus, it is trapped. This leads to inflammation, pain and formation of scar tissue.
Like all diseases, it has different consequences for different people. Some individuals do not experience any symptoms. However, others can experience extreme, and sometimes chronic pain. This pain manifests itself in the form of pelvic pain, painful sex, painful bowel and bladder movements, and fatigue. It can also become an obstacle to pregnancies.
Another problem that people with endometriosis have to deal with is their doctors. Ideally, doctors are supposed to be helpful. But for people with endometriosis, they are an obstacle to their treatment.
WHY ARE DOCTORS A PROBLEM?
Following the trend that prevails with healthcare for women, people with endometriosis are rarely believed by their doctors. Their pain is dismissed as “in their heads” or as cramps.
“I was told by many doctors that I was a woman, and that was what happened and it’s painful for some people,” Alex Roach told BBC. Roach suffered from painful periods for nearly 20 years and was diagnosed with endometriosis at 31.
Currently, there isn’t much awareness about this disease, even amongst medical professionals. This leads to them dismissing symptoms as something much less severe, adding to the troubles of the patient.
This falls in line with the larger phenomena of doctors dismissing women’s experiences. When they talk about their experiences, they are often called hysterical or attention-seeking. This often happens due to the perception that women don’t know enough, are overly emotional, and can’t deal with pain.
Endometriosis patients are often told that their pain is just because of bad cramps and will go away in a while.
This also happens when they visit doctors. Dr. Fiona Gupta told The New York Times, “I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen who have gone to see numerous doctors, only to be told their issues were stress-related or all in their heads.” Dr. Gupta is a neurologist and director of wellness and health in the department of neurosurgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
The world needs to do better. When it comes to acknowledging women’s problems, taking responsibility for them, and resolving them. The world needs to do a lot better.