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Disease profile: Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — also known as the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. The condition causes endometrial tissue to grow 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.

The condition results in painful periods and can lead to further complications. This presents an additional issue in India due to the prevalence of stigma associated with menstrual health. 

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Prevalence of endometriosis

Of the estimated 176 million women worldwide who suffer from endometriosis, around 26 million of them are Indian.

This figure is an estimate, due to the fact that many women remain undiagnosed. This is in part due to poor understanding of the condition, leaving many women simply believing that symptoms are the natural results of their period. 

Stigma regarding women’s health issues, including sexual health issues and menstruation is commonplace in India. This stigma plays a role in hindering efforts to estimate figures. Many women suffering issues related to these matters may opt to hide this from their family and are reluctant to seek out medical advice. It is recommended that if an individual suffers any abnormalities related to periods — in particular severe pain — a doctor should be sought out immediately. Resolving the issue in its earliest stages could prevent more significant health issues later in life.

The causes of the condition are poorly understood. Potentially, there may be a number of issues that increase the risk of developing endometriosis. These include previous uterus infections, genetic risk factors, or conditions which block the normal passage of menstrual flow.



Symptoms associated with the condition occur due to the endometrial tissue acting as it would within the uterus. The tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds according to the individual’s menstrual cycle. 

Dependent on where the tissue has spread, the resultant blood 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, which is 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 physical and mental health.


Prevention and treatment

Due to the vague nature of how the condition arises prevention is not a real option. In terms of treatment, the majority of methods concern symptom management or reduction in the complications related to the condition.

The pain caused by the condition is often managed simply through the use of prescribed painkillers, though in some cases hormonal contraceptives may be prescribed to reduce instances where the tissue breaks down and bleeds.

In more extreme circumstances, or where the affected individual is pregnant or attempting to conceive, surgical intervention to remove affected tissue may take place. As a last resort treatment, an individual may opt for a hysterectomy.

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