Endometriosis: What Is It & Why Aren’t Black Women Diagnosed As Often
It’s very fitting that endometriosis awareness shares a month with Women’s History. For years women have been neglected when it comes to their health and receiving the proper care they need. Black women are especially impacted as part of the underrepresented population that deals with endometriosis.
Underserved populations deserve advocacy organizations working on their behalf. They also need medical professionals to collaborate on the research that impacts their communities. Luckily, organizations like Endo Black and resources like The Endometriosis Resource Portal for People of Color are stepping up to the challenge. They are both advocates for Black people, Indigenous people, and POC.
We here at 21Ninety also want to do our part and help spread awareness. We want to advocate for those Endo warriors who are continually silenced by the medical field day after day.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a condition in which cells, similar to the lining of the uterus, grow outside the uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial-like tissue may be found beyond the area where pelvic organs are located.
It’s not uncommon for those not suffering from endometriosis, to struggle to understand the condition. Sufferers may be labeled as “being dramatic.” In fact, many women get misdiagnosed. In some cases it takes years to get diagnosed and actually receive treatment.
Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during menstrual periods. Fertility problems also may develop.
What Are The Symptoms?
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with menstrual periods. Although many experience cramping during their menstrual periods, those with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that’s far worse than usual. Pain may also increase over time.
Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
Discomfort with intercourse
Experiencing pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
Pain with bowel movements or urination
The most common time to experience these symptoms is during a menstrual period.
You may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking treatment for infertility.
Other signs and symptoms
Fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, brain fog, bloating or nausea are common especially during menstrual periods.
What Does The Pain Feel Like?
Endometriosis pain, for most, is a combination between a sharp stabbing pain, electric shock and muscle spasms. The pain can start off at a five and go up to ten any moment of the day.
Pins & Needles
What Not To Say To People With Endometriosis
Endo warriors report hearing uneducated comments on a daily basis. While it might come from a genuine place, the majority of the time it’s offensive. To solve this issue, education is key because it leads to awareness. Here are a few statements you shouldn’t say to someone who’s battling this illness:
You don’t look sick
Just get pregnant
Just go on the pill
It’s all in your head, it’s not that bad
It’s just a bad period
Have a hysterectomy
Take some Panadol
How To Get Diagnosed
This part can and does get tricky! Getting diagnosed with endometriosis can take forever. In some cases, up to ten years. It’s important to document every symptom, find an endometriosis specialist and always get a second opinion.
Tests to check for physical clues of endometriosis include:
During a pelvic exam, your doctor manually feels areas in your pelvis for abnormalities. Those may include cysts on your reproductive organs or scars behind your uterus. Often, it’s not possible to feel small areas of endometriosis unless they’ve caused a cyst to form.
This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. To capture the images, a device called a transducer is either pressed against your abdomen or inserted into your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound). Both types of ultrasound may be done to get the best view of the reproductive organs. A standard ultrasound imaging test won’t definitively tell your doctor whether you have endometriosis, but it can identify cysts associated with endometriosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
An MRI is an exam that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within your body. For some, an MRI helps with surgical planning. It gives your surgeon detailed information about the location and size of endometrial implants.
In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a surgeon for a procedure that allows the surgeon to view inside your abdomen (laparoscopy). While you’re under general anesthesia, your surgeon makes a tiny incision near your navel. She then inserts a slender viewing instrument (laparoscope) and looks for signs of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. A laparoscopy can provide information about the location, extent and size of the endometrial implants. Your surgeon may take a tissue sample (biopsy) for further testing.
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