The Undiagnosed Pain
Anna Romanovska discusses the devastating effects of Endometriosis and explains why this condition needs to be public knowledge.
Conditions such as endometriosis are debilitating. The pain a person feels can easily disrupt their day to day activities, such as preventing them from studying or attending work. Yet, because public discourse surrounding endometriosis and its consequences have started circulating only recently, many women find that their experience due to said condition is not taken seriously by non-medical professionals.
Endometriosis is a condition through which endometrial cells are found outside of the uterus in various places in the body. Due to the nature of these cells, they bleed during the woman’s period, causing insufferable pain.
Many women… have even reported thoughts of suicide due to the debilitating and extremely painful nature of the condition.
It is a condition that can take at least seven years to diagnose, risking years of suffering for those whose symptoms may be more hidden than others.
Only just have MPs taken notice of the devastating effects of the condition, announcing plans to investigate the impact of the condition on women’s lives.
When speaking to the BBC, 19-year-old Bethany Willis described the pain as “barbed wire wrapped around your insides.” She recounted a time when her pain was so unbearable, she had an overdose from the number of painkillers she ingested. Many women, including Bethany, have even reported thoughts of suicide due to the debilitating and extremely painful nature of the condition.
However, endometriosis is not the only vagina-related medical condition that is only just receiving public attention. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) are just some of the conditions that have yet to overcome the taboo hurdle.
Women and girls are taught to feel shame because of their genitalia and are thus rendered silent about their pain and struggles.
The lack of public discourse surrounding vaginal prolapse and stress urinary incontinence had even faced a worldwide medical scandal surrounding the frequent use of vaginal mesh to treat it. Both conditions are common especially after birth, however due to the hushed nature of both of these conditions, many women, including their doctors, sought quick solutions to fix these problems. A transvaginal mesh implant is placed inside the pelvic region, aiming to provide permanent support to the weakened organs and to assist repair on damaged tissue. There are, as can be expected, many issues with this procedure, mainly that the mesh implant causes trauma to the pelvic area it surrounds. This led to 58 per cent of women experiencing pain during intercourse and 59 per cent experiencing no improvement to their conditions following the procedure. Luckily, national medical organisations across the world have come out and said that the mesh should only be implanted as a last resort, when all other non-surgical methods had been trialled.
By highlighting the debilitating nature of conditions such as endometriosis and a scenario where a lack of public knowledge caused the so-called ‘mesh scandal’, I hope that more light has been shed on the essential need for public discourse surrounding female genitalia and the conditions associated with it. This lack of information boils down to the female reproductive system being considered a major taboo topic within the majority of cultures. Women and girls are taught to feel shame because of their genitalia and are thus rendered silent about their pain and struggles. Perhaps the incorporation of said information into national campaigns and state-ordained sex education will help to break the stigma surrounding something that needs to be normalised.
For more information on the symptoms and diagnosis of Endometriosis and related medical conditions, follow the links below:
Endometriosis – NHS
Polycystic ovary syndrome – NHS
Pelvic organ prolapse – NHS
Urinary incontinence – NHS