Those suffering with endometriosis deserve real action.
This week marks Endometriosis Awareness Week for 2021. Aiming to promote a greater awareness & understanding of endometriosis as a real, debilitating and disabling disease. It also highlights the consequences of living with endometriosis for the sufferer, carer and all those affected by the disease. But there is still more that needs to done.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects 1 in 10 women in the UK. Roughly the same percentage of the population that is affected by diabetes.
If you didn’t know, endometriosis is the name given to the condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.
Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
It is a chronic and often debilitating condition that can cause painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.
On average it takes those suffering 7 and a half years from first experiencing symptoms to get a diagnosis. Currently, there is no cure and instead, the only treatment available is to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life for a woman living with the condition.
The All-Party Political Group inquiry found that 58% of people visited the GP more than 10 times before diagnosis and 53% went to A&E with symptoms before the diagnosis.
The only way to be formally diagnosed is through a keyhole procedure – which requires an anaesthetic – called a laparoscopy.
“Endometriosis is a thief. It robs you from yourself and can steal the colour out of even the brightest day. Those in the painful know are all too acutely aware of what I am on about.” – Emma Barnett
Through research we can safely say that women and their pain are often neglected or dismissed entirely. Stereotypes around women and our bodies suggest that we are ‘just being dramatic’ and feeling pain during our menstrual cycle is ‘natural for that time for of the month.’
“The health gender gap is fed by perceptions of women as being over-emotional and exaggerating the extent of their pain and suffering,” says women’s health specialist Dr. Larisa Corda.
“In reality, many women under-report symptoms… If they’re not taken seriously when they do see a doctor, it propagates the notion that whatever they’re going through isn’t serious, which can have massive implications.”
More funding needs to be invested into the research surrounding the condition. More women suffer from this disease than we assume. Chances are you know at least 1 person who is afflicted, a sister, a friend, a colleague.
One project that is battling to help women get diagnosed quicker and easier is the Language of Endometriosis. Their “project is the first known study to analyse the language women with endometriosis use to talk about their experiences with the condition and their experiences trying to get diagnosed.”
They are currently making real change by “developing a linguistic toolkit for doctors and patients that allows a mutually understood description of symptoms.”
Whilst women, such as the founder of the Language of Endometriosis Dr Stella Bullo, are taking control of their narrative and making steps within the medical field to make things better for those suffering.
We still have a long way to go until women’s bodies are treated with the respect and compassion they deserve.
Women are constantly denied the right to knowledge about their own bodies. Thrush and UTIs are among many conditions that we are not taught about. We spoke to gynaecologist, Miss Adib, about what to do if you’re suffering.