Is it just a period cramp or Endometriosis?

Is it just a period cramp or Endometriosis?

Menstrual cycle or periods defines a woman’s womanhood. But there are also several complications associated with it and cramps or pain in abdomen is one of the major discomforts. While in most cases the endurance of the cramp is no more than a week, some might find the discomfort lasting longer than period days. This abnormality could be endometriosis, a sign of danger and should not be ignored. This prevalent, painful condition affects 1 out of every 10 women during their menstruation years and is affecting 190 million women globally (as per WHO).

Endometriosis is a medical condition that affects women of reproductive age. It occurs when endometrium, the tissue lining inside of the uterus, grows outside the uterus, attaching to other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic area. Endometrial tissue in the uterus normally thickens every month and is shed during the menstrual period, leaving the body through menstrual blood. But with endometriosis, the tissue that grows outside of the uterus can’t exit the body like tissue in the uterus does. It also may cause scar tissue to develop in the pelvis or a cyst (a fluid-filled sac) to form in an ovary, which can lead to severe pelvic pain.

Unlike a typical period, women with endometriosis have periods accompanied by excruciating cramps. People with endometriosis are seen describing their pain as stabbing, sharp, throbbing, gnawing or even intense cramping. The symptoms of endometriosis can vary in severity, and many women may not even realize they have the condition. It starts off with the complaint of having really bad cramping to the point of not being able to accomplish basic daily tasks, going to work or school.

Other symptoms of endometriosis include heavy or irregular period, low energy, pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination, excessive bleeding, infertility and diarrheal or constipation during a menstrual period. The condition can decrease quality of life due to severe pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, infertility and also rarely causing cancer. Most women with endometriosis are diagnosed late, more than 7 years on an average. Endometriosis-associated infertility is affecting a large number of women and is only realised during family planning. The condition occurs in 6% to 22% women of reproductive age, making it one of the most common gynaecological disorders.

Although the exact cause of endometriosis is yet not certain, possible reasons include problem with menstrual period flow, immune system disorder, hormones disorder, surgical scar implantation and genetic factor. There are also several risk factors associated with endometriosis such as early puberty, prolonged or frequent periods, not being able to bear child and obstruction in menstruation flow

Also there is no known way to prevent endometriosis completely but the symptoms can be treated with medicines or, in some cases, surgery. Better lifestyle choices can also help fight the symptoms like lowering your estrogen levels with birth control pills, avoid alcohol consumption and smoking, cut down on caffeine, ensuring 30 minutes workout daily, eat a healthy diet, avoid refined sugar, flour and processed foods, drink plenty of water, dress lightly, take supplements like vitamin E, evening primrose oil, Vit B complex, calcium & magnesium and also back therapy can do wonders to alleviate symptoms.

The disease can be diagnosed through a physical exam, ultrasound, or laparoscopy. The treatment options include pain medication, hormonal therapy, and surgery. Providing education on the early symptoms of endometriosis is crucial for detecting the condition early, promoting menstrual health, and reducing stigma of the condition.

Most importantly, counselling to the endometriosis sufferer plays a vital role. The life of a woman with endometriosis affects not only her – but everyone around including her partner, parents, siblings, family, friends, colleagues and even her children. Therefore, one should take utmost care of the sufferer. Try to communicate more with her, understand her pain and difficulties, give her utmost comfort and care.

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