Often brushed off as a perceived condition, endometriosis is coming to the forefront of discussions among medical professionals, patient advocacy organisations, and women living with or supporting someone diagnosed with the condition. Endometriosis is a prevalent reproductive disorder that comes with a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding, but that is beginning to shift.
As more women with endometriosis are speaking up about their experiences and the life-changing impacts the condition has had on their well-being, more people are willing to take time to learn about the disease. That starts with breaking through the six most common myths about endometriosis and the truth behind the debilitating health condition.
Myth: It’s a Well-known Disease
Endometriosis impacts an estimated one in every ten women throughout the world, particularly those who are in their prime reproductive years. The high rate of occurrence of the condition would make some believe that it is widely known throughout patient populations and medical professional circles, but the truth is, there is a significant lack of education surrounding the disease. Many doctors still look at the symptoms of endometriosis as simply a woman’s issue, most of which is made up in the patient’s mind. As endometriosis comes more into the limelight thanks to the women with the condition willing to speak up, the hope is that it becomes better known and understood as a real, often severe health condition.
Myth: You are Born with It
Women with endometriosis do not have the reproductive disease from the moment they are born but instead develop it as early as the onset of puberty. Endometriosis occurs when the tissue of the uterus, also known as the endometrium, grows elsewhere in the body. This could mean tissue appears in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the lining of the pelvis, but the abnormal growth can take place nearly anywhere. Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason endometriosis occurs, many believe it can be linked to excess estrogen produced in the body during puberty.
Myth: It is Easily Diagnosed
The unfortunate truth about endometriosis is that despite its prevalence among women, the condition is not quickly or easily diagnosed. According to a UK team of medical negligence legal specialists, endometriosis symptoms come with a stigma many doctors fail to avoid. There is still a significant number of misdiagnosed cases of endometriosis because medical providers shrug off the very real pain and discomfort of the disease as “normal” menstrual cramps or a hormone imbalance. In some cases, endometriosis is mistaken for a different condition altogether, such as irritable bowel syndrome or polycystic ovarian syndrome. This leads to the incorrect treatment, and ongoing suffering for the patient.
Myth: Endometriosis is Always Painful
Pain if one of the most common warning signs of endometriosis, often debilitating as it resembles severe cramping. However, not all women experience pain, nor do they have symptoms that keep them from functioning day to day. The truth is endometriosis presents in many different ways, including unexplainable infertility, extreme bloating, and nausea. The vagueness of endometriosis symptoms makes it that much more important to get a proper diagnosis as early as possible.
Myth: There is a Clear Cause
There is no singular cause for endometriosis, which creates even more confusion and frustration around the disease. Endometriosis is known to impact women of reproductive age who have higher than average estrogen levels in the body, but the medical community cannot draw a direct line from one to the other. Recent studies show data on endometriosis and its prevalence among certain ethnicities, women with a family history of reproductive health issues, or having previous conditions like asthma or multiple sclerosis. However, the direct cause of endometriosis remains unknown at this time.
Myth: It Can be Cured
Because endometriosis has no clear cause, the condition has no cure. However, women living with endometriosis do have several options for treatment plans that can help reduce or eliminate symptoms – once a proper diagnosis is received. Self-treatment at home with the help of pain medication, heating pads, and a reduction of stress-inducing activities is helpful for some women. Others are recommended to undergo laparoscopic surgery to remove the tissue growing in other parts of the body. Working with a healthcare provider who understands the condition and its reality for many women experiencing symptoms is the best way to ease the discomfort of endometriosis for the long term.