Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 56

Pain in women

Chronic pelvic pain in women

We can do ultrasounds and sometimes see ovarian cysts , which are related to endometriosis .

Many women of childbearing age go through regular menstrual pain and discomfort in the pelvis , the area below the bellybutton and between the hips . This common experience is sometimes dismissed as inconsequential , just a part of being a woman . But in some cases pelvic pain can become so excruciating and persistent that women struggle to have fulfilling relationships or even work productively .

We talked to Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar , a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and medical adviser at the Endometriosis Association of Malaysia ( MyEndosis ) to shed light on the challenges women with chronic pelvic pain have to endure .
What ’ s chronic pelvic pain in women ? It ’ s a type of chronic pain in the pelvis lasting for more than six months and that leads to lower physical performance and quality of life . Its incidence is high , as studies have shown that about 20 to 30 percent of women in Malaysia experience it .
What are the most common causes ? Chronic pelvic pain can be menstrual related , or cyclical , because it ’ s monthly and coincides with a woman ’ s menstruation . But it can also be non-cyclical .
If it ’ s menstrual related , it can develop before , during , or after a woman ’ s period . If it ’ s not related to menstruation , it could be due to dyspareunia , which means pain during sexual intercourse , or related to gastrointestinal problems . A third cause can be due to problems in the genitourinary system , which comprises the organs involved with the excretion of urine and reproduction . Infections can also cause pelvic pain , especially sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia .
But the most common cause of menstrual-related chronic pelvic pain is endometriosis , which affects 15 to 30 percent of women and up to 50 percent of those with chronic pelvic pain . This is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grown in other places , such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes .
What are the difficulties women with endometriosis have to go through ? This is a terrible disease that affects young women , even teenagers . They ’ re under siege for the whole of their reproductive lives from the menstrual pain that can grow more severe each year , even creating infertility problems . It can destroy a woman ’ s quality of life , her dreams to become a mother , and her relationships and employment prospects .
When women get older , they run the risk of ovarian malignancies because pelvic pain can be the result of a chronic inflammatory disease that is often linked to cancer , so the disease has the potential to become malignant , especially after 45 years of age .
Since pain is a subjective experience and many women would normally experience it regularly during their period , how can they spot serious problems that require medical care ?
Dr Sharifa Halimah Jaafar
54 MAY 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com