There are no known causes for endometriosis but awareness of the disease through education and early diagnosis can make all the difference to the health of women
PARTNER CONTENT: International Women’s Day, which is marked on 8 March every year, is a well-known, month-long celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. March is also a time when International Endometriosis Awareness Month is honoured.
A lesser-known yet important date, it is a crucial reminder for women to educate themselves on the warning signs to look out for on a health condition that can have significant implications on a number of levels.
In conversation with Dr Oruba Abd Elhak, Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynecology and Acting Head of Obstetrics & Gynecology Department at Danat Al Emarat, a Mubadala Health Partner world-class specialty women and children’s hospital located in Abu Dhabi, it transpired that 176 million women worldwide have endometriosis.
“This represents one in 10 women worldwide during their reproductive years, which is typically when their period starts till menopause,” says Dr Oruba.
Endometriosis is a disease whereby the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or pelvic lining. This misplaced tissue can cause pain and discomfort, especially during menstruation. Endometriosis can also lead to fertility problems if it affects the ovaries or fallopian tubes. It is a chronic, often painful condition that affects an estimated one in 10 women of reproductive age.
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“Many women do not realise that these are symptoms of endometriosis,” says Dr Oruba. “This lack of awareness frequently causes a delay in getting treatment. Therefore, if you have, or suspect having endometriosis, it is vital that you know how to seek diagnoses, the options for treatment and where you can go to get support.”
Dr Oruba adds that it is important to differentiate between reality and myth. “Many women think that suffering pain during the menstrual cycle is normal, when the condition is actually abnormal. Lots of women think that having a heavy period is healthy, but it is not at all. Therefore, it is important that women speak to their doctor sooner rather than later. In general, women should make an appointment with their gynaecologist for screening every year to help in the prevention of all women’s diseases, including endometriosis.”
What Causes Endometriosis?
The actual causes of endometriosis are unknown; however, there are a lot of theories.
“One such theory indicates that some women are predisposed to the disease genetically,” says Dr Oruba.
Other theories point to the causes of endometriosis being when cells similar to the endometrium are misplaced. Known as lesions, these cells grow and bleed each month in response to hormonal changes, just as the endometrium does during the normal menstrual cycle. “This results in inflammation, causing scar tissue,” says Dr Oruba.
Diagnoses of endometriosis may involve a pelvic exam, ultrasound imaging, laparoscopic surgery, or biopsy of an endometrial lesion, all of which can be carried out at the cutting-edge facilities of Danat Al Emarat.
“Treatment for endometriosis may involve pain relief medications or hormonal therapy, such as birth control pills, progesterone, androgens, or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists,” says Dr Oruba.
“In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the endometriotic implants and scar tissue.”
Dr Oruba stresses the importance of creating awareness of the disease from an early age, such as the teenage years in females.
“For women and teens suffering any of the symptoms associated with endometriosis, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for diagnoses, to receive appropriate treatment to manage the symptoms and prevent any further complications. The earlier we can catch the disease, the more we can help them.”
For more information, visit Danat Al Emarat
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Image source Danat Al Emarat