“The pain flares up from my ovaries and makes me cry as I couldn’t move, scream or sit properly. From my stomach to my thighs, I feel every part of my body is wounded with blades.
The pain is not letting me die, I know it will last till the end of my life, ruining my social and marital life,” says Maheen (fictitious name), a patient suffering from Endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a chronic disease, which causes severe pain, inflammation, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, terrible pain in periods and intercourse. It affects differently to every woman, some have episodes of pain but some have constant pain in their pelvis. According to World Health Organization (WHO), it affects 10% of reproductive-age women globally. The pain and peer pressure make it worsen. Women usually don’t get to know about this disease as pain during periods is considered normal and unmarried women fear visiting gynecologists.
A 34-year-old patient from Rawalpindi shares her fear during treatment as: “I was diagnosed with Endometriosis 7 years ago. Since then, I used to go to the doctor alone fearing that in the waiting area, I might see any of my relatives, friends, or colleague and they will judge me for going to the gynecologist being an unmarried girl.”
Another woman from Karachi, named Samina, shared her painful experience: “The periods’ cramps felt like labor pain, I used to scream while sitting in the washroom, people usually say that it’s a drama and I am perfectly ok but deep down only I knew how dreadful it was for me.”
Endometriosis is a condition in which abnormal tissues form outside the uterus such as ovaries and fallopian tubes. Ultrasound and blood tests are not considered as effective ways to diagnose endometriosis, the most definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is Laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is an operation in which a camera is inserted into the pelvis to look for the signs and details of endometriosis. Further operation is suggested according to the results of the laparoscopy.
Most women fear laparoscopy as the scars of the operation remain on their bodies and it is considered a stigma for women in this society. Maheen, 27 years endometriosis patient shares that she was diagnosed with PCOS and Endometriosis in 2021 but did not start the medication prescribed by the gynecologist because the attitude of the doctor was not good. According to her, the gynecologist did not inform her properly about her disease and told her to reduce her weight otherwise they will opt for an operation.
Maheen expressed her painful experience as: “I always ask my doctor about the chances of infertility in the future, I am scared to the core about the issues I might face during my married life. The doctor advised laparoscopy for the proper diagnosis but I fear that would affect my ovaries and I might not be able to reproduce in the future. I always feel scared to visit a doctor as on every visit I came to know something more torturing about my disease.”
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Most of the time women are barred from sharing their disease with their husbands to be so that it would not be revealed before marriage that woman is having some issue that can affect reproduction. Maheen shared that her mother categorically told her that the main purpose of marriage is to reproduce and now all the time she thinks about that and feels worried about her future.
A gynecologist, serving in a private hospital in Islamabad, prescribed dicloran to a young endometriosis patient who was suffering from chronic pain that too without listening to her properly. The trainee doctor told her that prescribing dicloran is not allowed in this hospital.
Maheen shared that her experience with senior doctors is the worst. According to her, they don’t listen to the patient properly. A doctor serving at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) shared her experience as; “All the time I am flooded with patients, I can’t listen to anyone of them properly. Women scream with pain; we can’t decide who to prioritize and who not to. We always try our best to accommodate all of them but due to the large number of patients, it can’t be managed. Because of these issues, most of them can’t get proper treatment.”
Many females shared their experiences with gynecologists on social media, stating that the doctor was extremely rude to them when they shared their disease. Many activists have also raised their voices to highlight the issue of ill-treatment by gynecologists, especially in public hospitals.
Women physically & mentally suffer due to endometriosis. Our norms, myths and ignorance towards women’s reproductive health leave women untreated. Women who are more than half of the population are major contributors to the development of the country, if their health and treatment would not give importance, their productivity will decrease which will eventually affect the economy of the country.
The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at Twitter @Mahnurqureshi.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.