Endometriosis is an agonizing disease that affects one in 10 women of reproductive age around the world, reports Rosa Furneaux, occurring when tissue, similar to the lining of a woman’s uterus, or endometrium, grows outside the womb, most commonly in the abdomen and in the pelvic cavity.
The condition is chronic and extremely painful because although the tissue “continues to behave like womb lining, thickening, breaking down, and bleeding during each menstrual cycle,” it has no way of escaping the body and instead develops into lesions, which cause extreme pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and infertility, Furneaux says.
“A 2001 study, ‘The Girl Who Cried Pain,’ asserts that men are more likely to be given medication when they report pain to their doctors, while women are more likely to be given sedatives,” notes Furneaux. Women are also likely to have their pain discounted as ’emotional’ or ‘psychogenic’ and ‘not real.’
Endometriosis has no known cause and no known cure. Some studies suggest that there is a genetic component to the disease while others have discovered endometriosis in fetuses — which means women may be born with the condition that is eventually activated during puberty.
But what really makes matters almost unbearable is the relative indifference of medical professionals to women’s expressions and experiences of the extreme pain caused by the disease.