Beyond pain

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Their stories revolve around pain, even if their journeys are different. Women who suffer from endometriosis, some since puberty, some later. The disease affects about one woman in ten. The disease is still poorly known, poorly diagnosed and not recognised by the CNS, even though it has to be treated by surgery and has high recurrence.

Liliana's problems began at puberty, when she was 11 years old. Intense pain during her periods. Except that no one believes her: "A doctor told me I was just a softie! But I was in real pain, I had my period for a whole month, with only a week's break. I had severe of blood loss, I was anaemic, very pale, I fainted regularly. At school I was taken to the emergency room because I was found passed out in a pool of blood." Following this visit to the emergency room, the doctors decided that it was probably appendicitis. Liliana was operated on at the age of 14, but her situation did not change one iota. It wasn't appendicitis, and the problems started all over again. "My stomach swelled up like a pregnant woman almost three weeks a month, the pain was always there", but no doctor took her complaints seriously.

Dr Marc Stieber is a gynaecologist, the lead doctor in gynaecology for the Woman-Mother-Children Unit of the Robert Schuman Hospitals (HRS) confirms that endometriosis affects 10 to 15 per cent of women with "classic" symptoms such as severe pain during menstruation or sexual intercourse, as well as infertility. When the pain migrates to the level of urination and defecation, it requires interdisciplinary collaboration, he explains. For the doctor, it is imperative to first listen to the patient, carry out a clinical examination and then an ultrasound scan to detect possible implantations in the ovaries, which are "easier" to see than in other places. For Dr Stieber, if the profession is aware of endometriosis, diffuse symptoms can lead to a more difficult diagnosis.

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