Can you recall the first time you heard about endometriosis? Was it as a teenager in health class? Or, did you learn about it from a television commercial highlighting horrible pelvic pain while menstruating? Maybe it was only after consulting multiple doctors about the pelvic pain you were diagnosed with endometriosis?
The hard truth about endometriosis is that many women aren’t officially diagnosed until their 30s and 40s despite 66% of those women having reported experiencing symptoms as teenagers. Unfortunately, women often have a long wait, on average seven or more years, to be diagnosed with endometriosis. So, by now, you might be asking yourself what everyone else is thinking. Why does it take so long to diagnose endometriosis?
You’d think this question should be easy to answer, but quite honestly, it’s not.
Women are often not made aware of the complete list of symptoms associated with endometriosis. Or, when they’ve consulted doctors, their symptoms are dismissed or misdiagnosed. Endometriosis can often be mistaken for other diseases such as IBS, appendicitis or ovarian cysts because the symptoms can be similar. Preventing this long wait for diagnosis starts by introducing health education for endometriosis for both teenage girls and doctors.
At What Age Does Endometriosis Start?
Did you know 1 in 10 women, typically starting around puberty, are affected by endometriosis? And, believe it or not, endometriosis has been reported in girls as young as 11. If endometriosis is left untreated, it can often worsen over time. That is why it is vital to identify the first signs of endometriosis in teenage girls.
First Signs of Endometriosis in Teenage Girls
Early detection of endometriosis is important and starts with knowing the first signs. As reported by EndometriosisNews.com, delayed treatment of endometriosis can lead to worsening symptom pain and promote endometrium tissue scaring or even infertility.
According to researchers at the Boston Center for Endometriosis, symptom patterns of endometriosis are commonly shared among young girls and adult women. Symptoms are often reported as moderate to severe pelvic pain along with nausea and abnormal bowel and urinary movements. Arming oneself with the knowledge of the symptoms is a step in the right direction in preventing delayed diagnosis.
- Pelvic pain a few days before, during and a few days after your period which can also be classified as dysmenorrhea
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain with bowel movements and urination, likely experienced during your period
- Excessive bleeding during or between periods known as menorrhagia or menometrorrhagia
- Other symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially while on your period
Health Education for Endometriosis
By now, you may be beginning to see that health education for endometriosis plays a big role in reducing delayed diagnosis of endometriosis in teenage girls. In 2015, according to one study performed in New Zealand, educational programs that focused on teaching teenagers menstrual health showed a 32% significant increase in awareness of endometriosis.
These educational programs aimed to teach:
- Abnormal periods
- Endometriosis awareness
- Overall well-being
- Encouraging teenagers to seek medical care when needed
- Addressing social stigmas and taboos about periods
It’s time to take control and educate the population about endometriosis. See our tips for bringing awareness to endometriosis.
At the Kaldas Center, we’re dedicated to teaching teens, men and women alike the importance of health education for endometriosis. If you’d like to learn more about endometriosis or are interested in scheduling a speaking engagement with Dr. Kaldas at your school or facility, visit KaldasCenter.com or call us at (920)886-2299.