Struggle

Guest Post: Painful Periods

This post is written by a 21-year-old girl from Islamabad suffering with a condition that has had a serious impact on her life, yet many don’t even consider it an illness. She belongs to the upper-middle class which is why she had access to the best medical facilities in Islamabad and Lahore. Still, she faced hurdles in her diagnosis which she feels, maybe due to lack of doctors’ knowledge on this subject. Many undermined her pain. Let’s hear it from her.

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Menstrual health and hygiene education are almost non-existent in most parts of the world (including Pakistan). While some developed countries have made an effort to change this by passing legislation to make menstrual health education a mandatory part of education, I sit and find nothing as I search for such initiatives in our country.

Since the topic of menstrual health-related issues is such a taboo in our society, labeling it off as behayai often allows certain menstrual conditions and disorders to be overlooked and hence many women suffer because of ignorance.

Amongst many such disorders is Endometriosis. I’m uncertain of how many of you are aware of it (apart from medical students/doctors or those who are a victim of this belittled disease).

In medical terms, it’s an often painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows in places outside your uterus (mostly pelvic region) and can spread to other organs depending upon its severity and treatment.

Statistically, endometriosis is so common that it affects approx 1 in 10 women even if women may not be aware of it.

Some facts regarding the disease are:

  • It can only be definitively diagnosed via laparoscopic surgery.
  • Currently, there is NO CURE for it. Treatment options for people are restricted to getting hormonal management, laparoscopic surgeries, etc. Different people respond differently to each treatment.
  • Symptoms of this disease vary and may be atypical or misdiagnosed for other diseases. (It can take up to 10 years to get a definitive diagnosis).
  • Perhaps the most common symptom experienced by women suffering from it is PAIN. It’s the kind of pain that not only takes a toll on physical health but has a great impact on mental health too.
  • This pain intensifies during menstruation leading to severe dysmenorrhea (pain during menstruation).
  • Lack of awareness and ignorance, leads to many women undiagnosed for years, living in excruciating pain. (Some women may not experience any pain).

Upon surfing the internet, I found almost nothing related to ‘Endometriosis Pakistan’. For over a year now; since my own diagnosis I have been in search of various support groups and to my disbelief, I have not come across a SINGLE support group/community in Pakistan. I found many groups where women from other countries come together and lift each other up in the face of adversity.

That was when I decided that I will not sit back and watch other women suffer in silence. I realized that Pakistani women are in dire need of a platform where they can share their experiences, inspire others and lift each other up the same way. So this post is specifically for all the women who have been diagnosed with Endometriosis and are seeking treatment for it.

“Take pride in your pain. You are stronger than those who have none” – Lois Lowry

Endometriosis requires both physical and mental health treatment because of its invasive nature, and I have come to the conclusion that no matter how tough things may get, a constant source of encouragement and positivity goes a long way.

I can’t even begin to describe the impact this disease has had on my life. It took away the fun of my teenage years; while my friends were out enjoying I was battling excruciating pain most of the time. It affected my academics, my relationship with peers, and drove me to a point where I wanted to take my own life. It took me about 6 years, and about 13 different doctors telling me that ‘my pain is just in my head’ to finally reach a diagnosis.

Now that I look back on my journey towards getting an answer, I find myself wondering how many other women out there must be suffering through the same ordeal. And it only makes me want to help people realize that they are not in this alone. I am here to connect and form a support group where women suffering from Endometriosis can learn and grow together, and become a source of comfort for one another.

I run an Instagram page called Pak Endo Support & Awareness to play my part in raising awareness. With a little more encouragement, I want to actively play a part in providing support for other women struggling out there. If you feel you have similar symptoms and need a diagnosis, you can contact this page for support.

I hope this article helped you. If you have the same symptoms, don’t forget to comment below. If you have a family member or friend who has very painful period pain, please tag them on this article as it would help them.

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