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Food & Health

Raising Awareness: The Hidden Disease

Endometriosis is a condition that 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer from, around 1.5 million in total. It is a condition in which the tissue found in the lining of the womb, the endometrium, is found outside of the womb. This can cause chronic pain, heavy periods, extreme fatigue, infertility and a manner of other debilitating symptoms. This is a lifelong condition and is incurable, affecting females of any race or ethnicity who are of childbearing age.

The endometrial tissue can be found in different areas of the body including the outside of the womb, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes, the bowel or bladder and the lining of the abdomen. Depending on where the tissue is found the impact it has on a woman’s life is varied. Daily activities can become a chore, especially when menstruating, and this not only has physical effects but emotional too. Living with a condition such as endometriosis can cause anxiety and depression, leading to a loss of confidence and a diminution of one’s body image. It can take up to 10 years to correctly diagnose endometriosis as the symptoms can vary between women, which is a long time to be suffering with an unknown ailment. This can all affect emotional wellbeing.

Once diagnosed, there are a few different options that a Gynaecological specialist can offer to the patient depending on how severe their case is. Hormonal treatments such as the contraceptive pill, implant or coil are available, but for some women this may not be the best option. With new technology that is seemingly less invasive, there comes the possibility to undergo operations using laser surgery. This involves a laparoscopy under general anaesthetic in which the surgeon uses a laser to cut out the endometriosis, known as excursion. This can also be done using intense heat. As for many other operations, it does have its side effects which can include scar tissue known as adhesions, also causing severe pain, pelvic infection and damage to some of the tubes surrounding the bowel.

To determine which treatment is right for each woman can sometimes be a process of trial and error, although there are a number of different ways to try to understand how severe the condition is without using invasive surgery. This can include an ultrasound, transvaginal ultrasound and CT scan, but ultimately the best way to know is through a laparoscopy. Although treatment can be used in order to alleviate the illness, endometriosis is ultimately incurable and is something that has a huge impact on a woman’s life. It is something that needs to be investigated more as it is a worldwide condition affecting millions.

“Although the aim is to raise awareness throughout the month’s entirety, the week beginning the 6th of March has been dedicated solely to raising this awareness in the UK.”

March is the month of Endometriosis awareness; a condition that, despite being common, is not known by many around the world. Although the aim is to raise awareness throughout the month’s entirety, the week beginning the 6th of March has been dedicated solely to raising this awareness in the UK. Endometriosis UK is hosting this week by setting up a number of fundraising events such as charity runs, extreme challenges and long-distance bike rides. If you would like to participate in any of these please go to their website.

There is currently a petition ongoing that means to encourage Theresa May and her constituency to see the effects that the condition has on many and to therefore recognise it under the Equality Act 2010. There have been many cases in which women have had to leave jobs due to not being fit to work and their workplace not understanding how difficult it is to live with the chronic condition. If you would like to sign this petition then please see the link below:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/183806

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