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An awful pain called endometriosis

2022-03-25  Frieda Mukufa

An awful pain called endometriosis

It is endometriosis awareness month and what better way to end the week. When women complain of severe periods every time they have their cycle, they are not looking for attention. In most cases, they are in terrible pain, which feels like wires being pulled in a bunch throughout your uterus. This, however, can often result in what is called endometriosis. 

What is endometriosis? Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often-painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial-like tissue may be found beyond the area where pelvic organs are located.

With endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue acts as endometrial tissue would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. But because this tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.

The very first symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, which is often associated with menstrual periods. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual periods, those with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that’s far worse than usual. The pain of endometriosis is very severe, to the extent that a sufferer is not able to do anything or even walk. Sometimes, it is so severe that it causes nauseous feelings and/or make them sick. As such, the pain may increase over time.

So, as a woman, how do you know you might be at risk of endometriosis? These are some of the symptoms, but it is not limited to: 

Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Like I mentioned earlier, the period pain is so severe that it sometimes starts a week prior to your periods, and then the pain extends several days into your periods, with the same severity. Sometimes, you may feel pain in your lower back and abdomen. 

Coupled with this would be heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods. You may also experience fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.

The severity of your pain may not be a reliable indicator of the extent of your condition. You could have mild endometriosis with severe pain, or you could have advanced endometriosis with little or no pain. It is also important to note that, endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis. 

However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t get the help you need if the pain persists. Visit as many doctors as you need to in order to properly diagnose you. 

*Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation. -

2022-03-25  Frieda Mukufa

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