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The silence & stigma of period pain: fibroids, endometriosis can destroy a woman’s life

This content is sponsored by The Center for Innovative GYN Care

Ignoring chronic pain from GYN conditions deemed unethical: Beyond the Stirrups Part 3

The modern battle cry to demand women’s voices not only be heard, but taken seriously, faces a challenge within the healthcare system that can, to this day, erode a woman’s trust in herself.

Those with whom our health is entrusted are not always knowledgeable about complex GYN conditions that cause period pain, and are often dismissive towards their female patients. Not being taken seriously can result in delays treating complex GYN conditions like endometriosis or fibroids that put a woman’s health at risk. These conditions can cause excruciating pain, heavy bleeding that can lead to anemia, and infertility that may or may not be treatable.

In Journal of Medical Ethics, Cheryl MacPherson outlines how medical professionals’ lack of modern knowledge and undertreating pain violates ethical principles. Advancements in diagnostics, treatment and pain management have evolved rapidly in the last decade, providing medical professionals with the tools to address the underlying causes of pelvic pain. Experts in minimally invasive endometriosis excision and fibroid removal at The Center for Innovative GYN Care are leading the way to changing entrenched attitudes about women who present with complex GYN conditions, beginning with advocating for earlier minimally invasive surgical intervention.

ENDOMETRIOSIS AND FIBROIDS: COMPLEX GYN CONDITIONS

“Over the years, we have seen countless patients who were told their endometriosis pain was just in their head, so that when they come to see us, it’s been years of being under or misdiagnosed,” said Natalya Danilyants, MD. “Endometriosis can cause a great deal of damage to the reproductive system. If a patient is properly diagnosed early, and treated with laparoscopic excision, the disease and the resulting pain can be managed, while monitoring to minimize the risks of infertility.”

Fifty percent of women with endometriosis see at least five health care professionals before receiving a diagnosis and/or referral. It is estimated that a woman with endometriosis will have to wait 7-9 years for a proper diagnosis of the disease, as it is not visible on any type of diagnostic imaging. During that time, the inflammation caused each month can lead to scarring in the pelvic cavity, which can in turn lead to infertility, chronic pain or difficulty going to the bathroom. While laparoscopy is needed to confirm an endometriosis diagnosis, initial symptoms can indicate there is a problem, and with a proper patient health history, diagnostic laparoscopy

Fibroids affect approximately 80 percent of women by age 50, yet the common practice by OBGYNs and Primary Care Physicians is simply to watch them and wait on treatment. Waiting to remove a small fibroid can lead to a much more complicated removal procedure down the line, and waiting to remove a large fibroid can result in irreversible damage to the uterus, putting fertility at risk.

“Uterine fibroids can be unpredictable,” said Paul MacKoul, MD. “They can continue to grow, and in some cases grow very large, very fast. Removing them when they are smaller can help preserve a woman’s fertility, but will also result in a faster recovery for the patient. The larger the fibroid, the more damage to the uterus. Our LAAM fibroid removal is a state-of-the-art technique that has helped thousands of women with very small to very large fibroids, but too many doctors are telling their patients with fibroids to wait and see if the shrink, so that by the time they come to us, so often, they are huge. We all need to think more about what the patient is experiencing with these conditions, and the risks they face with surgery when their condition is allowed to go unchecked.”

WHY WOMEN HIDE PERIOD PAIN

Society often demands that in order to be taken seriously, some women have to hide their pain. The number of women who are still told “the pain is in their heads” is staggering. Reducing a woman’s claims of actual pain to a psychological problem creates a stigma that can be jarring enough to enforce the silence. These additional barriers to treatment can result in irreversible damage to the reproductive system.

When women are allowed to suffer for years with fertility damaging diseases like endometriosis and fibroids, there is a tendency not to trust medical professionals, and once diagnosed, the resentment can turn into depression and anger.

Comprehensive studies documenting women with chronic pain and the corresponding medical neglect, or discrimination, have shown that there is an ingrained level of skepticism held by many medical professionals. Compounding the problem of medical neglect, there is a pervasive acceptance of period pain or low pelvic pain as “normal.” Though this extends well past the medical industry into public perception, new inroads to educating medical professionals about common gynecological conditions, their symptoms and the need to refer to a laparoscopic GYN specialist can go a long way to changing how women are treated.

ADVANCED GYN SURGICAL TECHNIQUES MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO ADDRESS PAINFUL CONDITIONS SOONER

The CIGC exclusive techniques DualPortGYN and LAAM fibroid removal for fertility were designed to treat complex GYN conditions while minimizing pain from surgery. All CIGC procedures ensure efficiency by controlling for blood loss and mapping the pelvic cavity so that visibility is high. Once these initial techniques are complete, the time spent on the surgery is fast. The less time under anesthesia is better for the patient. It is also important to perform a thorough procedure. Using these advanced techniques, CIGC specialists can achieve both.

All procedures performed by CIGC specialists are outpatient. That means patients go home from surgery the same day, and recover in the comfort of their own homes. For most patients, there is no required hospital stay. CIGC patients are back to themselves in days, and in many cases return to normal activity between 1 to 2 weeks.

CIGC is dedicated to providing information and materials for women to help navigate the complicated healthcare system. CIGC minimally invasive GYN surgical specialists Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD and Dr. Natalya Danilyants, MD developed their advanced GYN surgical techniques using only two small incisions with patients’ well-being in mind. Dr. Rupen Baxi, MD is a CIGC-trained minimally invasive GYN specialist with extensive fellowship training and a respected speaker and researcher. Book a consultation at The Center for Innovative GYN Care or call 888-787-4379.