Awareness of endometriosis sorely lacking

Saras Ramiya
02 Apr 2024
Awareness of endometriosis is lacking among the community despite the severe morbidities it causes
Women with endometriosis frequently present with dysmenorrhea.

Endometriosis, a condition where endometrial tissue is present outside the uterine cavity, causes multiple symptoms that makes it a predominant source of morbidity among women of reproductive age. The prevalence of endometriosis in Asia is estimated at 15 percent. [Gynecol Minim Invasive Ther 2019;8(1):4–11]

Women with endometriosis frequently present with dysmenorrhea, abdominal bloating, constant fatigue, nausea, dyspareunia, dyschezia, and pain during urination. Many may develop depression and anxiety due to the symptoms. An estrogen-dependent disease, endometriosis is impacted by the cyclic change of hormones resulting in inflammation in the pelvic cavity. Conditions such as subfertility, chronic pelvic pain and pelvic mass, may develop due to the inflammatory state.

Approximately 30 to 50 percent of women with fertility issues may have endometriosis. Other possible causes of infertility in these women include inflammation of reproductive organs, scarred fallopian tubes, distorted pelvic anatomy, and multiple factors that affect egg quality and embryo implantation. []

Although a significant number of women are affected by endometriosis, an overwhelming lack of awareness is prevalent in Malaysia. Surita Morgan, Founder and President of the Endometriosis Association of Malaysia (MYEndosis) alluded to the fact that many women are affected by endometriosis in Malaysia but there is limited documentation and mindfulness of their plight. “Malaysians are generally not aware of what endometriosis really is and why some women have this condition. One of the biggest reasons is because it is often considered as a taboo subject,” she said.

Surita called for open conversations on endometriosis in addition to more research, resources, and increased recognition of this condition. Thus, endometriosis need not be a silent burden in the future, but a challenge met with understanding and solidarity, she added.

According to Dr Liza Ling Ping, a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist, and fertility specialist, “This Endometriosis Awareness Month, we have stepped up efforts in our mission to shed light on the profound impact of this condition, especially on infertility. We hope these can help empower women to seek timely diagnosis and access comprehensive care, so that nobody will have to face the hardships of endometriosis alone.”

Liza added that endometriosis deeply affects patients’ emotional well-being, relationships, and quality of life in addition to their physical health. Education, support, and advanced treatment options have important roles in uplifting and guiding patients and their families through their journey, ensuring they receive the compassionate care and attention they deserve. Also, fostering deeper understanding and treatment of this condition can make a positive difference in the lives of women everywhere, she said.

Endometriosis presents in stages with each stage a reflection of the complexity and varied impact of the disease (Figure 1). From minimal to severe, each stage indicates the condition’s progression, providing insights into the symptoms and treatment options designed to alleviate pain and restore quality of life.

Figure 1_endometriosis

Although there is no absolute cure for endometriosis, early diagnosis allows for the staging of patients’ condition and guides the treatment to manage their symptoms and improve quality of life. A spectrum of treatments is available ranging from laparoscopic surgery to specialized fertility treatments.
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