March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and the need for advocacy for people suffering from the disease is high.
Endometriosis is a complex, debilitating chronic disease that occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus implants outside of it and on other organs in the body to form lesions, cysts, and deep nodules.
Symptoms often begin in adolescence and may include severe menstrual cramps, chronic pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, fatigue, and infertility. 1 in 10 females suffers from endometriosis. People with endometriosis experience high rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
Due to the specialized management of the disease, as well as the average delay in prognoses, wait times for surgical procedures are currently in excess of a year. This leaves those with the disease to suffer in pain and an overall decrease in their quality of life.
In an effort to increase awareness of what people with endometriosis are suffering with, and how our healthcare system is supporting them, Oak Valley Health is sharing the following patient’s story.
Anna suffered from debilitating pain around her period for many years. She had seen several healthcare providers about it but always felt her pleas for help were not taken seriously. The pain started to affect her ability to live a normal lifestyle. Anna also wanted to start a family but eventually even intercourse became too painful, and she was concerned about her ability to conceive due to her suspicions of having endometriosis.
Anna finally decided she needed to advocate for herself and requested to be seen by Dr. Yoav Brill at Oak Valley Health. After a number of tests were completed, Dr. Brill determined that Anna likely had a severe case of endometriosis that was attacking her kidney and advised that she needed surgery immediately. Her surgery involved multiple specialists and the use of a specialized CO2 laser to precisely cut out the disease while minimizing the risk of collateral damage to surrounding vital structures.
Due to the severity and progression of the disease, Anna had already lost 95 per cent of her kidney function. But, after a successful surgery, ultimately all of the endometriosis tissue was removed, as well as ovarian cysts and part of her vagina where the endometriosis had caused irreparable damage.
Since then, she has been followed by her care team at Oak Valley Health, and her kidney function has now recovered to 15 per cent. She also now has a healthy, beautiful nine-month-old baby girl at home. Anna is pain-free, happier, and is able to enjoy life with her loved ones now that the physical and mental load of her endometriosis disease has been managed.
No definitive cause or known cure exists for endometriosis, but education and awareness of the disease can help people receive diagnoses and management sooner, allowing them to return to their day-to-day activities, pain-free.
For more information, visit endometriosisnetwork.com