The Fight Against Endometriosis
On Saturday the 10th of March, women—and some men— took to the streets of Lagos, for a Walk Against Endometriosis tagged #SquashEndo as a means of creating awareness of this disorder. On the same day, Nigerian rapper Saeon took to social media to share her struggles with the disorder.
This revelation puts her with Tanzanian model Millen Magese and Nigerian fashion icon Nike Oshinowo who have also been public about their battles with endometriosis. Sadly, even with all this publicity, the disorder is still largely unknown to the general public today.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus—the endometrium—grows outside the uterus. It involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis.
The displaced endometrial tissue continues to thicken, break down and bleed with each menstrual cycle and, because the displaced tissue has no way of exit from the body, it becomes trapped. This can cause irritation and scar tissue development. This disorder can cause severe pain, especially during periods and fertility problems.
Most of the symptoms associated with endometriosis are linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle. They usually include chronically painful periods, excessive bleeding (especially during periods), pain during or after sex, pain with bowel movements and infertility.
The challenge with these symptoms is that a number of them are already associated with menstruation so no one bothers to check for endometriosis. In the statement made by Saeon via her social media page she said, “Prior to the diagnosis, I hadn’t really heard of or paid attention to endometriosis and I catch myself wishing I had been educated on it as this knowledge could have helped in earlier diagnosis and my not having to go through the stress of some symptoms I dealt with.”
Another woman named Oyinda who works as a Human Resource Manager in Lagos said, “Usually I have pains a week to my period and I felt it was a normal thing. Over time, it started to increase to two or three weeks and the pain became more intense. I went to see a lot of doctors and they kept telling me different things…it wasn’t until I met a consultant gynaecologist who I told my symptoms and he told me I had endometriosis.”
With these cases, it is evident that most people with endometriosis had no prior knowledge of the condition before diagnosis.
There is no known cure for endometriosis, however, the symptoms can be managed depending on the stage it is discovered.
Some of the treatment methods include pain medications, hormonal therapy(supplementary hormones to regulate monthly changes and relieve pain), conservative surgery (remove endometrial growths without damaging organs) and a hysterectomy (last resort surgery that removes most reproductive organs).
The problem with the medications is that they can’t be used over a prolonged period of time because of the side effects. Also, most known cases of endometriosis are discovered late so surgery is usually the only option.
Millen Magese underwent an egg-retrieval procedure in order to save her eggs — for a chance to have children in the future — before going through surgery, while Saeon, although not specifying the type of surgery she had to pass through, she pointed out that she was operated on. As for Oyinda, she has been diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis which means she has no choice but to undergo a hysterectomy.