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A Problem That Affects About 190 Million Women Worldwide

Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease caused by cells from the endometrium that, instead of being expelled, migrate in the opposite direction and fall into the ovaries or abdominal cavity. According to data published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease affects up to 10% of the population of girls and women of child-bearing age in the world.  


Endometriosis can be silent for years, which makes diagnosis difficult. When it begins to present symptoms, the main ones are: intense menstrual cramps, dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse), infertility, and intestinal and urinary pain and/or bleeding.  


When the disease is suspected, a gynecological exam is the first step towards a diagnosis. Additionally laparoscopy which can visualize the lesions, endovaginal ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and CA-125 blood test are also other exams that help.  


The subject gained a lot of attention when the Brazilian pop singer, Anitta shared on her social networks that she had been diagnosed with endometriosis. Many girls and women of different ages that suffer from the same problem related to Anitta and shared their stories. 


Real cases  


Maria, Joana and Laura, all pseudonyms, suffer from endometriosis and received the diagnosis at different times in their lives. Just like Anita's story, they all took some time to understand what they need to do to live a more peaceful and pain-free life.  


Maria, for example, is 21 years old and has suffered from pain and irregular bleeding since she was 17. When she looked for a doctor, the answer was almost always very vague, not very explanatory and without requests for additional tests to investigate the causes. Finally, after being referred several times, one of the professionals raised the suspicion of endometriosis. 


Joana and Laura have also been in similar situations.  Joana is 30 years old and discovered endometriosis at the age of 26. She has been living with the disease for 4 years and, fortunately, today she doesn't suffer with so much pain due to regular follow-ups with her trusted doctor.  


The first signs were irregular bleeding and a lot of pain in the pelvic region; cramps that didn't even allow her to do the physical activities she liked so much. She took some time to seek a specialist, since she had always believed that cramps are a natural part of a woman's life.  


However, this naturalization of the disorders that the period can bring, for example, often hides misinformation about the female body. It is not natural to stop performing tasks because of pain or uncontrolled bleeding. Many women delay in seeking a gynecologist exactly because they believe that these are normal symptoms.  


Laura was also a victim of the lack of information about the subject. The symptoms appeared early, when she was 18, but she only sought help when she was 24. In an intimate conversation with a friend, she discovered that she felt the same symptoms as her colleague diagnosed with endometriosis, only after this she decided to seek specialized help. Until then, she had the usual gynecological exams, but had never had an MRI, for example.  


Cases like these show that talking about endometriosis is urgent and can help bring quality of life to thousands of girls and women. If treated in the right way and with the right professionals, it is possible to maintain a normal life, without risks and without inconvenience. It is important to break taboos and misinformation surrounding issues about the female body, because only with enlightening facts can society create public utility within the debates of women's health. 


Besides often spending months before understanding what they actually have, others don't even receive the correct diagnosis and need to live their whole lives with an unknown but very uncomfortable problem. 


Picture: StartUpHealth


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