Let’s talk endometriosis and mental health – don’t suffer in silence

  • One in ten women suffer from the condition which can take up to 7 years to diagnose
  • Endometriosis can affect mental and lead to depression and anxiety

Did you know that endometriosis is one of the hardest conditions to diagnose? There is no specific screening for the condition, and different women suffer from it in many different ways.

Endometriosis refers to a medical condition where tissues that normally lines the inside of the uterus – the endometrium – grows outside the uterus. This can cause severe pain during one’s menstrual period. 

This March is endometriosis awareness month and Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) is highlighting the importance of women taking care of their physical and mental health by getting the necessary medical care and support required. 

Signs of endometriosis

Endometriosis affects one out of ten women worldwide. The condition can take up to 7 years to diagnose, with 68% of young girls and women being misdiagnosed and 30-50% of women at risk of infertility. Those who suffer from endometriosis will experience symptoms in different ways. Symptoms include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Painful periods
  • Heavy flow of menstrual blood 
  • Pain during sexual intercourse 

A key topic that is not often discussed is how the physical pain endured can lead to mental health issues. As endometriosis is not easily diagnosed, patients are unable to express what they are going through clearly and accurately, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Social stigma surrounding the condition is a further deterrent, causing patients to isolate themselves as they do not feel understood or heard. This then prevents them from seeking the necessary help to treat the condition.

Be a pillar of support to lessen psychological impact

SMCV’s resident Obstetrics & Gynaecology Specialist, Dr. Wong Yen Shi emphasises the importance of seeking help not just from medical specialists, but also from support groups.

SMCV’s Resident Obstetrics & Gynaecology Specialist, Dr. Wong Yen Shi emphasises the importance of seeking help not just from medical specialists, but also from support groups.

“Although the first and most important step to take is to treat the pain, it is also crucial for the patient to receive support from their family members, partners and friends. The psychological impact of such a debilitating disease should be addressed and not taken lightly as it can affect their social function. Decline in quality of life, negative emotions, stress, anxiety or depression may occur as a result of the pain that they go through,” Dr. Wong stresses. 

Such hindrances may cause women to be a recurring absentee from work or school, and even face frequent hospitalisation from the pain – about 82% of women are unable to carry out their day-to-day activities because of endometriosis and its effects. 

Dr. Wong notes that there are many ways in which one can show their support for the patient. It begins with understanding endometriosis – its symptoms, treatment, the side effects of medication as well as how it impacts the patient’s life. 

“One can simply show their support by keeping in touch and checking on the patient and asking how they can help. Be observant to the signs that the patient exhibits when they are going through the pain. Take notes and remember them for the future and be understanding when they are unable to attend to social events as they may be going through chronic fatigue. They may tend to isolate themselves as they feel like a burden, so they may appreciate you reaching out,” she adds. 

Seek professional help

Patients should also join support groups and seek professional help if they are going through any emotional distress as a result of suffering from endometriosis. Professionals and specialists are at hand to discuss the best way in which the patient can manage their challenges and cope better. The more patients talk about their pain, the more their experiences will normalise. 

Ending the social stigma surrounding endometriosis is a shared responsibility for all. Let’s work together to enable more women to come forth about their struggles, and in return aid others who are going through the same battles. 

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