Endometriosis is a much more serious condition than is thought. It can affect a woman’s fallopian tubes, bladder, ovaries and even her bowels causing pain and difficult pregnancies.
While awareness on the subject has increased, so have the number of cases of endometriosis. Singapore in particular has witnessed an increase in the number of women diagnosed with the condition just this year.
More Women In Singapore Are Being Diagnosed With Endometriosis
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According to reports from CNA, an endometriosis clinic at the National University Hospital (NUH) has been seeing around 100 to 110 patients a month this 2021. This is an increase from 70 to 80 patients per month back in 2019.
Associate consultant at NUH’s Division of Benign Gynaecology Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Dr Ma Li shares that more than half of these patients are experiencing severe cases of the condition. Patients as young as 12-years-old have been visiting the clinic.
More cases of endometriosis have also been found at the Astra Laparoscopic & Robotic Centre For Women and Fertility Clinic. Associate Professor Fong Yoke Fai says he sees about 10 to 20 patients weekly, which is twice as many from about eight years ago.
Why Are More Women Being Diagnosed With This Condition?
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While the rise in cases of endometriosis is alarming, there are specific reasons why a large number of women are suffering from it. Here are a few reasons suggested by experts:
An increase of awareness about endometriosis
As more younger women are aware of the condition, more people turn to healthcare professionals to be diagnosed. Associate Prof Fong adds this could also be because of improved diagnosis with better and more available tools.
Fewer women having children
With fewer women in Singapore getting pregnant or at least having them at a later age, this could be why more people are being diagnosed with the condition.
A study published in 2017 in the Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that patients in Singapore take up to four years to be diagnosed with endometriosis from the onset of symptoms. Reasons for delayed diagnosis could be due to how period pains are often considered “normal” and people believe you could just grow out of it as you get older. Due to this, many women don’t immediately seek a doctor when they feel pain, which leads to a delay in diagnosis.
Associate Prof Fong adds that many women “continue to have pain or struggle with fertility issues when they are older.”
Lack of knowledge on endometriosis
While there has been an increase in awareness about the true pains of the condition, there is still a lack of knowledge among the general population. Associate Prof Fong tells CNA that even doctors and specialist will dismiss its symptoms, claiming it to be “normal” during periods. Some would just “play down” menstrual cramps and give women painkillers.
What Is Endometriosis And How To Prevent It
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So what is endometriosis and why is it important for more people to be aware of it?
Endometriosis is a condition where cells from the lining of the womb are present in what is considered an “abnormal” location. As they respond to hormones, they could cause bleeding and various diseases such as a cyst or nodules.” Other symptoms include:
Painful periods that not even painkillers can help relieve
Painful poops and pees
Experiencing pain during sex
Heavier than normal bleeding during periods
In order to prevent more women from developing the condition, here’s what one can do:
Having it treated as early as possible. Early diagnosis is important to keep the disease from getting worse.
Changing one’s diet and lifestyle can also help reduce the risk of the condition
More awareness surrounding the disease
“We have to recognise that impact of endometriosis extends beyond just the patient – it is not just simply a ‘woman’s disease’. It affects the social and economic impact of the patient, her family and close ones who have to suffer along with her, her marital life and fertility issues,” says Associate Prof Fong.
With reports from Nalika Unantenne.