There are various misconceptions and myths surrounding endometriosis. Because of the lack of education and awareness, there is a lot of unscientific and untrue information floating around both offline and on the internet. A lot of young women and girls who suspect or have been diagnosed with endometriosis experience a lot of pain and misery as a result of misdiagnoses or delayed diagnosis, lack of interest in their condition and pain etc.
Because the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is through a laparoscopic surgery, it usually take an average of 7 – 10 years for a proper diagnosis and then treatment. Many women feel like they have lost a big part of who they are, living with this condition. It is important to be aware of what the actual facts of endometriosis are and sift them from the myths, in order to make sure you are doing the right thing and choosing the right treatment options for yourself.
Pregnancy cures endometriosis.
The fact is that endometriosis is not cured by pregnancy. Endometriosis does not currently have a cure. There are a lot of treatment options which include pain management, non-surgical hormonal treatments and surgery (see here). However, because endometrial cells bleed as well during periods, pregnancy has a tendency to suppress the symptoms since menstrual bleeding stops during pregnancy.
A hysterectomy cures endometriosis.
The fact is that endometriotic cells can grow in various places in the pelvis and beyond. Therefore, removing the uterus does not necessarily stop the symptoms. This is because these cells still remain and continue to grow their own hormones and continue to bleed.
Young girls and teenagers cannot have endometriosis.
The fact is that endometriosis can affect young girls, as research and literature has shown that the youngest girl to have endometriosis was 7 years old. In fact, there have been a few cases of premenarcheal endometriosis, where girls have it even before their menstruation begins.
Debilitating period cramps are normal.
The fact is that during periods, because of the hormones and their various functions, it can cause some cramping as the cells are shed. However, it is never okay to be in such pain that you are unable to function, go to school or go to work. More awareness needs to be raised to make sure that this condition is quickly and accurately diagnosed.
Having endometriosis means you are infertile.
The fact is that many women with endometriosis go on to have children. Actually, not everyone with endometriosis presents with symptoms, and sometimes they only get to find out accidentally. Endometriosis may cause sub-fertility or infertility in about a third of women with the condition, but it is important not to automatically assume that having the condition means NO kids.
Wearing tampons causes endometriosis.
The fact is that the cause of endometriosis is not known. There is no scientific evidence that proves that wearing tampons cause endometriosis.
I have endometriosis because I am not fit or healthy.
The fact is that the cause of endometriosis is unknown. Many theories have been provided such as retrograde menstruation, genetic factors, spread through lymph or circulatory system, spread through prior surgery, immune dysfunction, metaplasia and toxins in the environment. But the reason why some or all of these can happen is not fully understood.
You can only get endometriosis in the pelvic region.
The fact is that endometriosis can spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, diaphragm, kidneys, nose and even the brain.
Endometriosis is when the womb lining grows outside the uterus.
The fact is that the endometriotic cells outside the womb are NOT the womb lining. They are rogue cells, behaving LIKE the endometrium, which are found outside the womb. These cells attach themselves to other organs such as the Pouch of Douglas, bowel, colon ovaries etc.
The same treatment can work for everyone.
The fact is that endometriosis is a disease which presents in different ways in different patients. A treatment that works for one person might not work for the other. As a result, a lot of trial and error is employed in treating and managing the condition on an individual-by-individual basis.
Stage 4 endometriosis is more painful than Stage 1 endometriosis.
The fact is that endometriosis stages are determined by location, extent and depth of endometriotic cells, severity of adhesions and presence and size of endometriomas. Therefore, pain is not a measure of the stage of endometriosis that you have. As said before, some people with endometriosis do not even present with any symptoms.
Endometriosis always comes with symptoms.
The fact is that not everyone with endometriosis has any symptoms.
Women with endometriosis only have pain during their periods.
The fact is that the symptoms of endometriosis, pain being the most obvious, can occur at any time during the cycle, and not just during the period. The hormones being created by the endometriomas are out of whack with the body and this means pain can happen at any time.
Busting these myths and arming oneself with the right knowledge and information will help one to make all the right decisions regarding the disease.
Propst AM and Laufer MR. Endometriosis in adolescents. Incidence, diagnosis, and treatment. J Reprod Med 1999;44(9):751-8.
Nnoaham KE, et al. Impact of endometriosis on quality of life and work productivity: a multicenter study across ten countries. Fertil Steril 2011;96(2):366-73.
Giudice LC. Clinical practice Endometriosis. N Engl J Med.2010;362(25): 2389–2398.
Macer ML and Taylor HS. Endometriosis and infertility: a review of the pathogenesis and treatment of endometriosis-associated infertility. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 2012;39:535-49.
Original Picture Credit – Alexey Lin on Unsplash.com