Endometriosis is a common disease that affects several women and girls around the world who are of reproductive age and the month of March is designated to spread awareness of the disease.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. Over 10,000 women in Jamaica are affected by the disease which has social, healthcare and economic impacts on society.
While this is a common health condition affecting women globally, many women have the disease and are unaware, mainly because the symptoms are often overlooked as period cramps experienced by women during menstruation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a chronic disease associated with severe, life-impacting pain during periods, sexual intercourse, bowel movements and [or] urination, chronic pelvic pain, abdominal bloating, nausea, fatigue, and sometimes depression, anxiety and infertility.
There is no current cure for endometriosis, however greater public awareness can assist women to identify early signs of the health condition to seek treatment. Each year, the world recognises March as Endometriosis Awareness Month, a public campaign to educate and inform individuals about endometriosis.
Risk factors of endometriosis
Endometriosis is a complex health condition that affects one in 10 women globally. There are several risk factors that may cause endometriosis.
- Family history
- Studies have shown that endometriosis in close family members such as a mother, grandmother or sister places individuals at a greater risk of developing the health condition.
- Retrograde menstruation
- Retrograde menstruation occurs when a woman’s period flows upward through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis instead of the vagina. According to the WHO, retrograde menstruation can result in endometrial-like cells being deposited outside the uterus where they can implant and grow.
- Immune system disorders
- A weak immune system is less likely to recognise that there is tissue growing outside of the uterus in order to help the body fight the disease.
- Endometriosis is common among women during their reproductive (18-44) age. The disease occurs in 1o per cent of women in their reproductive age globally.
- Cellular metaplasia
- Cellular metaplasia is when one cell changes from one differentiated cell type. According to WHO, cells outside the uterus change into endometrial-like cells and start to grow.
Signs and symptoms of endometriosis:
- Painful periods
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Pain during and/or after sexual intercourse
- Painful bowel movements
- Painful urination
- Depression or anxiety
- Abdominal bloating and nausea
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