Periods are not Meant to be Painful

It is human tendency to believe that certain conditions appear only among adults, failing to realise how ignorance leads to greater health issues in the future. Chicken pox for example, once a child gets chicken pox we believe that it is not going to occur again. Nobody takes the effort to know more in detail about an issue, the causes for it and if it has any future implications. Another major health issue that is considered to affect only adult women is Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a health condition that affects almost 100,000 women in the UAE.  It is a condition of equal opportunity, differentiates on no grounds. The youngest patient of Endometriosis as literature states was said to have been 101/2 years of age who had only two previous menstrual flows.

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that serves as the lining of the uterus starts growing outside in other places like the ovaries, fallopian tube, outside the uterus, the bladder, the intestines and others.  The most common symptom of Endometriosis is adolescents is pain during the menstrual flow. There are other symptoms including heavy bleeding during periods, or irregular periods and spotting, painful urination, pain during sexual activities. In some cases, women experience pain is areas where the tissue or uterus lining has developed.

It is common for women to experience discomfort during menstruation, but the intensity of pain and discomfort experienced is what determines whether or not medical attention is required. In order to understand why women experience pain during menstruation, we need to know what happens inside a female body during menstruation. During each menstrual flow, the lining of the uterus sheds because this is when the uterus is ready to receive the egg released from the ovaries. If the egg is not fertilised, the uterus sheds the uterus lining. One cause of pain during the menstrual cycle is a chemical called prostaglandins, which causes the uterus to contract when the lining is shed and these contractions, in turn, cause pain.

There are no fixed causes for the condition, even Doctors do not have an established reason for the causes of Endometriosis. Although hereditary factors do play a rather strong role in the same, women who have family members suffering from Endometriosis are more likely to develop the condition.

In most cases of adolescents, endometriosis as a health condition is not diagnosed because it is either considered a normal part of menstruating or the abdominal pain is considered to be caused because of some other cause. A lot of times, they themselves are unable to distinguish between what is normal pain and what isn’t, for they may have only experienced the cycle a few times and do not know.  Slight pain during the first few days of menstruation is normal but the continued pain that disrupts normal day to day activities isn’t normal. This is how we as individuals can understand that something about the functioning of the body is wrong. Constant pain during periods, worsening of the period pain, heavy flow during periods, back pain, diarrhea, feeling of nausea, constipation, painful urination, feeling of seeing blood when using the bathroom, inability to function normally and refraining from physical activities etc. are some of the most common visible symptoms of Endometriosis.

Yet again, on visible symptoms such as these, we need not conclude that the girl is suffering from Endometriosis, there is a possibility that these symptoms could have occurred because of any infection. Women generally tend to ignore such symptoms, period pain, in particular, is always disregarded as normal but do we know how much pain is normal, the intensity of the pain matters. On viewing any abnormal symptom or anything abnormal in the body, a Gynaecologist must be consulted. The Doctor may require certain tests to rule out every other possibility. The only way to conclude that a woman is suffering from Endometriosis is by performing a minimally invasive surgery called Laparoscopy where the doctor views the organs in the pelvic cavity with the use of a thin telescope called as Laparoscope. This gives the doctor a clear picture of the internal cavity, hence making diagnosis easier.

Dealing with Endometriosis is definitely challenging for it has no definite cure but that is no reason to dread the issue, individual symptoms experienced can be controlled. There are certain medications available to control the condition. Surgery may also help if medications do not work at all, although results may vary from person to person. One woman may find it helpful while the other may develop pain again over time. Certain lifestyle changes and exercises like walking and swimming may also help a long way in curbing the condition.

Every girl needs to take their body seriously and never shy away from asking if anything seems different. Regular health checks are a must, moreover, if a condition such as Endometriosis is diagnosed in the very beginning it will help reduce the severity of the condition and a woman may never have to say ‘I wish I had been diagnosed earlier’.

Dr. Ann Mini Mathew 

Specialist Obstetrician/Gynaecologist 

Aster Hospital Mankhool