Consultant Gynae & Obstetrician, Dr. Haider Jan Tells How To Differentiate Between Menstrual Pain &  Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which 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 tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

Endometriosis is the silent condition that 10 per cent of women are suffering from, but most of them don’t even realise they have it.

It is a condition that’s had a spotlight shone on it in recent years thanks to Ex-beauty queen and TV host, Nike Oshinowo, Nollywood actress and mom-of-2, Uche Elendu, Girl’s creator Lena Dunham’s very public battle with it, and Alexa Chung revealing she has the condition in a viral Instagram post.

It affects one in 10 women and can cause 30 to 50 per cent of sufferers to be infertile. With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Most women seem not to tell the difference between the condition and period pain.

Dr. Haider Jan, a Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at The Lister Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK defined endometriosis as:

“Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to those that line the womb – grow and embed outside of the womb causing pain, inflammation and also in some cases a difficulty in falling pregnant.

It is estimated that up to 10 per cent of women suffer with endometriosis, many of which are undiagnosed. This approximates to almost 1.5 million women, almost as many as those who suffer with diabetes.”

READ ALSO: Ex Beauty Queen Millen Magese Spills on Battle With Endometriosis & Birth of Her Miracle Son: “I had lost several other pregnancies, I didn’t think I could survive another loss” 

Endometriosis is notoriously difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can feel like severe period pain. Dr Jan told the Standard:

“It is very difficult to diagnose endometriosis based on symptoms alone although there are many particular signs one should look out for.

Painful periods, pain leading up to a period, pain during deep intercourse, pain after sex, mid menstrual cycle pain, and pain whilst opening the bowels are key symptoms which would concern me as a consultant.

If a symptom arises around the menstrual cycle it is likely to be hormonally related and so points to endometriosis or Adenomyosis.”

If you think you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to see your GP who can point you in the right direction. According to Endometriosis UK, “the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is by a laparoscopy – an operation in which a camera (a laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near the navel”.

How can you tell the difference between endometriosis and severe period pain?

Period pain is a symptom of endometriosis so it can be easy to dismiss endometriosis as bad cramps. Dr Jan explained:

READ ALSO: Nigerian Singer, Saeon Shares Motivational Post on Her Battle With Endometriosis, Cystic Ovary & Fibroid

“Period pain can have many causes – only one of which being endometriosis. We do know however, that severe period pain in adolescence may be a significant pointer towards endometriosis, and so should be investigated further.”

If you experienced severe period pain through adolescence, coupled with the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your GP.

How is endometriosis treated?

Unfortunately, if you are diagnosed with endometriosis there is no cure, but there are a number of treatments available to help relieve the pain – this should be decided between you and your healthcare professional.

How to Manage Endometriosis

So how do women who have this condition live with it? With all the pain and unpleasantness, how do they manage it? Best way is to find out what these experts and strong women are saying.

READ ALSO: Former Beauty Queen, Nike Osinowo’s Battle With Extreme Endometriosis And How God Broke The Jinx Of Childlessness In Her Life

  1. Warm Shower – A warm shower will soothe and relax your nerves. It will also help calm the pain and reduce stress.
  2. Stock up on tampons – Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom so you have to stock up on sanitary pads. One mother found it ironic that a nurse would think soaking one tampon in one hour was serious. She was using several in ten minutes.
  3. Exercises – Doctors advise women to perform the kind of exercises that would help strengthen the pelvic floor.
  4. Eat healthy – Doctors advise women to eat natural food supplements to help reinforce the body’s immune system. This helps to fight the initial infection that causes Endometritis in the first place.
  5. At Work/School – The intense pain that ladies go through destabilises them so much so a lady says she collapses to the sidewalk in excruciating pain when the attacks start. This could disrupt attendance and productivity at work or in school. It’s therefore important that they tell the teacher or line manager about their condition so that they can be excused. One mother has had to cry out to women on a blog asking for helpful tips because “pain killers aren’t working!!”. They should even educate someone at school or work on how to help.
  6. Keep Contact – The painful attacks can cause isolation, stress and depression. That’s why it is a good coping tactic to reach out to friends and colleagues so that they do not lose out on school work or find it difficult to slip back into society when the bad times have passed.
  7. Rest – Doctors also advise patients to get as much as 6 – 8 hours of sleep because when and while they get their sleep on, their bodies are able to recuperate and strengthen the body’s defence system. The body needs it if they have to heal the infection that started the Endometritis in the first place.

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