Doha, 28 March 2022: Women’s Wellness Research Center (WWRC) has observed this March as Endometriosis Awareness Month to raise awareness about the debilitating gynecological women’s health condition, which affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years usually between the ages of 15 to 49 years (this is approximately 176 million women globally).
The awareness campaign aims to encourage early diagnosis of endometriosis, and to prevent its misdiagnosis and ensure its early treatment. Part of activities marking the month included a multidisciplinary lecture series organized in collaboration with the Nursing Education Department and a display of awareness banners within WWRC’s OPD and gynecology unit.
“Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that is similar to the inside lining of the uterus (called “the endometrium”), is found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue. This tissue is primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, on the ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, on the bladder, and bowel. In very rare cases, it has been found on the diaphragm and in the lungs,” Dr. Arabo Ibrahim Bayo, WWRC’s Obstetrics/Gynecology Senior Consultant explains.
According to him, the primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain often associated with menstrual periods. “Although, many women experience cramping during their menstrual periods, however, people with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that's far worse than usual. The pain may also increase over time. Though the severity of the pain may not be a reliable indicator of the extent of the condition. The affected person could have mild endometriosis with severe pain, or they could have advanced endometriosis with little or no pain,” Dr. Arabo Ibrahim Bayo states.
He advises consulting a doctor if an individual has signs and symptoms that may indicate endometriosis. “Endometriosis can be a challenging condition to manage. An early diagnosis, a multidisciplinary medical team and an understanding of your diagnosis may result in better management of your symptoms,” Dr. Arabo Ibrahim Bayo adds.
Sister Muna Yaqout Mubarak Al Abdulla, WWRC’s Assistant Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery notes that several factors could place a woman at greater risk of developing endometriosis, such as not giving birth, starting period at an early age, going through menopause at an older age, short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days), heavy menstrual periods (longer than 7 days); higher levels of estrogen in the body or greater lifetime exposure to estrogen the body produces; low body mass index or family history of endometriosis.
“Endometriosis usually develops several years after the onset of menstruation (menarche). Signs and symptoms of endometriosis may temporarily improve with pregnancy and may go away completely with menopause, unless an individual is constantly exposed to estrogen,” she states.
Sister Haila Swaid Salim, WWRC’s Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, notes that it is important to raise awareness of endometriosis because the condition could sometimes be mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. “Endometriosis may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis. A general lack of awareness due to a “normalization” of the symptoms could result in significant delay between when a woman first experiences the symptoms and when she is eventually diagnosed and treated,” she stresses.
Sister Muna Al Abdulla mentions that the awareness lecture series was very successful with more than 500 participants attending each session. She adds that the multidisciplinary approach of including clinical pharmacists and the physicians further added to the success of the event.