Endometriosis myths

by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Mar 12, 2017 | 1650 views

HELLO readers. It’s great to be writing to you once again this week. This week I would like to set the record straight about certain myths about endometriosis. Because it is awareness month this March, I will quickly take you back to what endometriosis is. It is a gynaecological condition that causes a great amount of pain. Tissue or endometrium that grows outside of the uterus is endometriosis. It causes symptoms like chronic pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, back pain, leg pain, pain with urination and very painful periods.

The first myth about endometriosis is that endometriosis is the same as period pain or is “jeko” in Shona culture. There is a difference. There are women who have bad period pains which can last a day or two and can be alleviated with painkillers.

Endometriosis pain can start with ovulation and days before the period. The period itself is excruciating and sometimes women end up in the ER or finishing a whole box of brufen with no relief. Even when the period stops, pain can continue. We do not really have a word for endometriosis in Shona, but it is not the same as “jeko” which is period pain.

The next myth is that pregnancy cures endometriosis. There are some women who may have had bad period pain and got pregnant and the symptoms reduced. This is not always the same thing as endometriosis. I have consulted many doctors who pressurise me to get pregnant in order to be better. That is not a good reason to be pregnant. I feel that it is extremely unfair on the child if you do conceive but moreover it is not advisable to get pregnant when you are not ready. Pregnancy in women with endo can reduce symptoms or actually do nothing at all. I however, feel that women should have the freedom to conceive whenever they want to and feel no pressure to “cure” the disease. Pregnancy is not a cure.

On the same token, there is a myth about hysterectomy (termination of the womb) being a cure for endometriosis. This again is not true. Endometriosis is outside of the uterus and the lesions can implant themselves on any organ like the bladder, the kidneys and even on the brain. Some ladies have felt relief after a hysterectomy but many find that the pain does come back.

Apart from the physical pain of the operation, there is an emotional pain that comes with hysterectomy when you lose your lady parts. Most times a hysterectomy is done before its time and that causes confusion and disorder in the body. Moreover it destroys any and all chances of becoming pregnant. Please do not let a doctor push you into getting a hysterectomy if you are not ready.

Most diseases that end in “sis” suggest infection but endometriosis is not an infection but rather a condition. Endometriosis cannot be transmitted. There is no confirmed explanation for how it starts or where it does from but you cannot be infected by it. I remember being scrutinised by many nurses for having a STI and being promiscuous when I am really far from that. They immediately linked my symptoms to sexually transmitted diseases without doing any tests. It is a shame that pelvic issues are then related to immorality and sexual transmission. Endometriosis is not an STI.

There are a plethora of ways to manage the endometriosis such as surgery, hormonal treatments, acupuncture and pain killers but none of these cure the disease. We all are waiting for the day scientists and doctors find the cure for the disease as 176 million are affected by the disease. If these women were put in a country, it would be the 8th largest country in the world.

That’s a whole lot.

This month apart from celebrating endometriosis awareness, we are celebrating women’s month and this last Wednesday was Women’s Day. To all women who have struggles , I salute you! It may not be endometriosis but it is your struggle. To the special endo ladies who deal with pain, scrutiny, shame and judgement because of endometriosis, stand tall. I salute you as well! You may have endometriosis but remember it does not have you. Find the thing that gives you strength and validates your purpose, for me it’s helping people, and when you find that thing go for it.

If you would like to get in touch with me you may contact me on +263778026402 or email me on tinemataz@hotmail.com. God bless.

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