Women With Endometriosis Suffer For A Decade Before Diagnosis

Girl with stomach ache sitting on bed. Picture: Harvard Medical School

Women have to wait a decade spent in pain before being diagnosed with endometriosis.

This period is an average figure for the onset of pain symptoms and the diagnosis of the condition. This is due to a lack of knowledge among the general public and medical community. In some cases, the patients are misdiagnosed before a right diagnosis is made.

Endometriosis is a condition in which the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. Most often this is on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissue around the uterus and ovaries; however, in rare cases it may also occur in other parts of the body

This was disclosed by the founder of Endo-Survivors International Foundation (ESIF) a non-profit organisation, Mrs Olivia Nwankudu.

She said she is on a mission ot drastically reduce the lag time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis.

“Did you know that according to research, it takes an average of 10 years for a woman living with endometriosis to get a diagnosis? A whole decade!!

“So much can happen in 10 years and it is indeed a painfully long time to suffer in the dark without the promise of a diagnosis, cure or permanent relief.

“This delay in diagnosis is not peculiar to Nigeria because it prevails even in Europe, America, Asia and Australia and indeed, all over the world,” Nwankudu said.

She pointed that 1 in 10 women is struck by the ailment and there is a need to find a definite cure for the debilitating ailment.

“How does a woman living with chronic pain compete effectively for the same jobs with healthy men?” she asked.

Speaking on how the symptoms are sometimes missed, Nwakudu said menstruating girls might not report painful cramps as they feel it is part of the cycle.

She said: ”The adolescent girls do not even know what normal menstruation should feel like and as a result, may be hesitant to report symptoms like killer cramps to the doctors.

“Secondly, many general practitioners miss out the diagnosis of endometriosis in adolescents because it mimics the symptoms of other diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, IBS and digestive problems.

“By the time the girl is ready to see a gynaecologist, she is in her late 20s.”

She encouraged girls and women to listen to their bodies and write notes on the pains and other occurrences during the menstrual cycle.

“Endometriosis cannot be diagnosed through an ultrasound, blood test or scan. The only way your doctor can make an informed suspicion is if you are able to give useful information regarding your menstruation and pelvic health.

The information can also be tracked using period-tacking apps.

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