Mar. 8 is International Women’s Day — and while we use it as a time to celebrate the women in the world, it is also an opportunity to focus on women’s health.

 

Mar. 3 through to Mar. 9 also marks Endometriosis Awareness Week, a worldwide initiative to support knowledge and treatment of endometriosis, a hidden and often painful condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women.

 

Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus. It is ‘trapped’ in the pelvic area and lower tummy (abdomen) but can also exist within the muscular wall of the uterus. This is called adenomyosis. The displaced endometrial tissue bleeds with each menstrual cycle, creating adhesions.

 

If symptoms develop they typically begin between the ages of 25 to 40. It can be, but is not always hereditary. While endometriosis is not a cancerous condition, if left untreated, it becomes worse in about 4 in 10 cases.

 

Symptoms of Endometriosis

 

— ‘Killer cramps’ and painful menstruation. This pain is more severe than typical period pain, and can be so intense that the person affected can faint. The pain typically begins a few days before the period and usually lasts the whole of the period. It can also occur during ovulation

 

— Painful intercourse

 

— Chronic or intermittent pelvic pain and abdominal bloating

 

— Chronic lower back pain

 

— Reduced fertility

 

— Diarrhea or constipation

 

— Headaches

 

More Specific Symptoms of Adenomyosis

 

Other menstrual symptoms may occur. For example, bleeding in between periods or long and heavy periods.

 

Diagnosis

 

The symptoms caused by endometriosis can be caused by other conditions. Therefore, if any of the above symptoms become persistent then tests are usually advised to find the cause of the symptoms.

 

Treatment

 

Endometriosis is typically treated with hormone therapy, most commonly with oral contraceptive pills, though other hormone treatments (such as an IUD Mirena) are also used, and in some cases, surgery is recommended.

 

If you are suffering from symptoms that indicate endometriosis, the best course of action is to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, and receive advice on treatment and the next steps to take.

 

Dr. Elisabeth Blanchi is a gynecologist and obstetrician at Family Medical Practice in Hanoi, which also has locations in Vietnam’s other major cities. For information or assistance call (04) 3843 0748 (Hanoi), (08) 3822 7848 (Ho Chi Minh City) or (0511) 3582 699 (Danang).

 

Alternatively, click on vietnammedicalpractice.com

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