PC: The Guardian
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus.
Typically this tissue grows on other reproductive organs such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes causing pain and inflammation, and can also lead to infertility.
But, why are unmarried girls afraid to seek treatment?
“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 (name changed for protection) a patient suffering from Endometriosis to Friday Times.
A 34-year-old patient from Rawalpindi shared her fear during treatment. “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 gynaecologist being an unmarried girl.”
Another woman from Karachi, named Samina, shared her painful experience. “The periods’ cramps felt like labour 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.”
There are only a few accounts from many young girls suffering from chronic condition. Let’s take a deeper dive into the matter.
Pakistan in Need of Sympathy & Empathy Lesson?
In a country like Pakistan, the society we live in holds a lot of importance – especially when it comes to getting good proposals for marriage.
Families take marriages very seriously in our culture, and one of the most important factors here for the groom’s side is the girl’s ability to deliver healthy children.
While we do live in the year 2023 and in the 21st century, it is still shameful that our thinking is still stuck in the past. The bride must be fair, must know how to cook, must perform her duties towards her home, must give children, and so on.
However, if there is a young woman who can’t have children due to medical issues, while some men and families are understanding and accept them wholeheartedly, there are many who start raising questions.
After all, no one wants to marry a woman who can’t give him children let alone sons to take forth the family name. But, has anyone taken two minutes to understand that Endometriosis is not by choice, it is something that the girl has to live with?
Instead of showing support and sympathy, offering help or comfort, why does a girl have to be rejected based on a medication condition she has absolutely no control over?
Fear of Scars, Infertility & Labels
While being afraid of rejection is one of the reasons girls are reluctant to seek treatment, the second is that in a society news spreads like wildfire because we love to label people and relationships. Once you’ve been stamped with the title of ‘barren’ the title sticks to you like cavities to teeth and there is no getting rid of it. Hence, many families feel that their pride and reputation suffer if word gets out.
Most women fear laparoscopy as the scars after the operation as it remains on the 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 gynaecologist because the attitude of the doctor was not good. According to her, the gynaecologist 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, “I always ask my doctor about the chances of infertility in 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 future. I always feel scared to visit a doctor as on every visit I came to know something more torturing about my disease.”
Lack of Awareness + Taboos
The second reason is the majority of households in Pakistan – menstruation health is considered a taboo topic. While lack of awareness and education is one factor, another is that our parents may not have let us feel like we can talk to them about these sensitive topics, so we stay quiet.
This doesn’t not only lead to a lack of confidence but also a delay in treatment which can make matters even worse.
Lack of Finances
Additionally, there may be financial barriers, as access to healthcare can be limited in some areas of Pakistan, and treatment for endometriosis can be costly.
Moreover, there may be a lack of awareness and understanding of the condition among healthcare providers, which can make it difficult for girls to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
The treatment for endometriosis varies depending on the severity of the condition and may include a combination of approaches. Some common treatments include:
- Medications: such as birth control pills, which can help to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce pain, or Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which can help to reduce the size of endometrial growths.
- Surgery: such as laparoscopic surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure to remove endometrial growths.
- Hormonal therapy: such as progesterone-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs) which can help to reduce pain by slowing down or stopping the growth of endometrial tissue.
It’s important to note that endometriosis is a chronic condition and there is no cure, but treatment can help to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
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