Pain during your period is a common occurrence for girls and women. But when does it get too much? For some, the pain is excruciating, almost unbearable. The scientific term for period pain is Dysmenorrhea which is experienced on a primary or secondary level. The secondary level of dysmenorrhea is where the pain is caused by an underlying pelvic issue. The most common underlying cause of this secondary level pain is Endometriosis (commonly referred to as Endo); a fairly unknown disease that’s affecting 5-10% of reproductive aged women globally, associated largely with unbearable period pain.
Endometriosis is where the Endometrium, that usually grows within the uterus, grows outside the uterus, on other organs and causes intense discomfort during menstruation, sex and general body fatigue. It is rather disadvantageous for high-school girls as they’re forced to skip school as a result of the extreme period pains. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a low reported prevalence of Endometriosis. Stigmatisation of menstruation, limited training in health facilities regarding Endometriosis and a lack of awareness of this disease strongly impact studies on it’s prevalence rate. The lack of knowledge surrounding this area of reproductive health is the reason many young girls suffer in silence.
Endometriosis is notoriously difficult to diagnose. It can take women years to get the official diagnosis from health professionals. Dismissal of period pain by medical professionals further stigmatizes period pain and deters those seeking treatment. Some of the risk factors you should look out for in suspicion of Endometriosis include;
Regular pelvic pain
- Pain during sex
Pain related to your bladder or bowel movements
Recurrent Pain that affects your daily activities, such as school
General body fatigue
To overcome the difficulties females face in the health sector requires us to be smart patients. We firstly need to demand better from our health services. Furthermore, speak up about your pain and don’t let it be dismissed by health professionals. You’ll need to have the answers to these questions if you’re speaking to a doctor about possible endometriosis;
List your symptoms
When did the symptoms appear?
When do you experience the symptoms and are they worse at specific times?
How do you currently manage the pain?
Do any of your close female relatives have endometriosis?
Endometriosis doesn’t currently have a cure but diagnosis is still an important process! You can access treatment options aimed at easing the pain, such as the contraceptive pill. Thus, breaking the stigma and talking about issues surrounding period pain will spread awareness, leading to more diagnoses, and encourage further research. It’s important that if you’re reading this and you have, or suspect that you have Endometriosis- to know that you’re not alone! Visit here for more information and support on Endometriosis.
Also, browse through your various social media under the hashtags; #EndoWarriors, #LivingWithEndo to find out more from people living with the disease.
It may be dysmenorrhea but also the cause of that severe pain has to be ruled out. seek medical attention