As Endometriosis Awareness Month dawns this March, it beckons us to unite in solidarity, raising awareness and dispelling misconceptions surrounding this chronic and often debilitating condition. Dr Sigcu, a Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialists at the Vitalab Durban office has a special interest in women’s health and aims to shed light on this disorder that plagues so many women.

Understanding Endometriosis

Dr Sigcu says: “Endometriosis, is a complex gynaecological disorder characterised by the abnormal growth of tissue resembling the lining of the uterus outside the womb. This tissue, known as endometrial implants, may proliferate in various areas of the pelvic region, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and peritoneum and sometimes extends to the bowel”.

While the exact cause of endometriosis remains elusive, theories suggest a combination of genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances, and immune dysfunction may contribute to its development and sometimes uterine structural abnormalities.

Symptoms and Impact

Dr Sigcu says: “Endometriosis manifests through a myriad of symptoms, ranging from chronic pelvic pain and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) to infertility and gastrointestinal disturbances. The severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals, with some experiencing mild discomfort while others endure debilitating pain that disrupts daily life and compromises overall well-being.”

The hallmark of endometriosis lies in its ability to mimic the menstrual cycle within ectopic tissue sites. During each menstrual cycle, endometrial implants undergo cyclic bleeding and inflammation, leading to the formation of scar tissue, adhesions, and chronic inflammation. Over time, this recurrent process can result in structural abnormalities, organ dysfunction, and compromised fertility.

Shedding Light on Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr Sigcu stresses that “Diagnosing endometriosis often presents a formidable challenge due to its nonspecific symptoms and the absence of definitive diagnostic tests. The gold standard for diagnosis remains laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that allows healthcare providers to visualize and biopsy suspicious lesions within the pelvic cavity.”

While there is currently no cure for endometriosis, various treatment options aim to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life for affected individuals. These may include pain management strategies, hormonal therapies, surgical intervention such as the insertion of the Mirena or Kyleena, and assisted reproductive technologies for those struggling with infertility.

Empowering Through Awareness and Advocacy

Dr Sigcu says “Endometriosis Awareness Month serves as a beacon of hope, empowering individuals to speak out, seek support, and advocate for greater recognition of this often overlooked condition. By fostering open dialogue, challenging stigmas, and promoting education within healthcare communities and beyond, we can catalyse positive change and improve outcomes for those affected by endometriosis.”