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Endometriosis affects 26 million Indian women

Roughly 176 million women suffer from endometriosis worldwide. Around 26 million of them are Indian.

Image ID: 73192852 (L)This was revealed during a national meeting in Mumbai, convening experts in the field. Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — also known as the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. This can involve endometrial tissue growing in areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the tissue lining the pelvis. On rare occasions, endometrial tissue has been known to spread beyond the pelvic region.

Issues arise due to the fact that the endometrial tissue acts as it would within the uterus. The tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds according to the individual’s menstrual cycle. Dependant on where the tissue has spread, this bleeding and broken down tissue may have no way of vacating the body, eventually leading to the build-up of cysts.

In the short term, this can result in pain within the individual, often more severe during their period. In the longer term, the build-up of cysts can impact the individual’s fertility. Such an outcome can have negative impacts on both the individual’s health and mental health.

In order to address the high number of cases of endometriosis in the country, the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) recently launched key practice points for endometriosis – entitled VISION (Valuable Insights in Indian Endometriosis – Redefining Outcomes) at the National Conference on Technology, Advances and Infections in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Hyderabad.

Dr Nandita Palshetkar, president of the FOGSI, said that “since management of endometriosis can be challenging for the patients and the treating doctors, VISION will enable us to execute a multi-disciplinary approach and expertise to improve patient’s quality of life.”

Many women and young girls will be unaware of the symptoms of endometriosis, attributing them instead to the expected pains associated with a period. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to the long-term effects of the condition such as infertility.

In addition to simply not being aware of the condition, many women are afraid to speak out or seek medical attention due to the stigma associated with menstrual health. This problem has been reported on by Health Issues India in the past, as it has caused other period-related illnesses, such as bacterial infections resulting from the wearing of damp underwear. This occurs where women do not wish to dry their underwear outside due to societal stigmas. Access to affordable menstrual hygiene products is another issue, although the government has taken steps to address this such as by producing their own pads at a third of the market price and making feminine hygiene products tax-free.

Information concerning endometriosis must be made available to both practitioners and the public, potentially beginning in school, to ensure that young girls who begin their period are aware that excessive pain is a reason to seek the advice of a doctor. Broader understanding of the issue may also aid in alleviating the stigma associated with periods.

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