Santa Cruz de Tenerife (EFE).- María Jesús took ten years to discover that what caused her chronic and strong menstrual pain, which lasted up to 28 days, was endometriosis, a pathology that, although according to WHO data, suffer in the world 160 million women and there is no cure, it is not, according to those affected, sufficiently investigated.
Endometriosis is a pathology in which the internal tissue of the uterus grows outside of it and can cause intense pain like the one suffered by María Jesús Lillo, a journalist based in the Canary Islands, who “in order to transform that pain”, decided to write the book Six hours: My life with endometriosis, whose profits are used for research on this disease.
José Antonio Pérez, head of Gynecology at Quirón Tenerife, affirms, in an interview with EFE, that the average time in the diagnosis of endometriosis is between 7 and 8 years, a period that is due to a lack of symptoms specific.
The specialist highlights the relevance of insisting on physical examinations and clinical histories from Primary Care, to focus the work on what “makes us suspect the presence of endometriosis.”
Lillo affirms to EFE that he began to have “a better quality” of life after performing the total hysterectomy operation, a surgical intervention that consists of removing the uterus and cervix, and since then he decided to “do what he knows how to do: write his story”.
The journalist regrets that despite the number of people affected, the same treatment has been maintained for twenty years due to the lack of budget for research.
For María Jesús this is due to a gender bias: “Medical research is masculinized and it is not normal that a disease that affects so many women in the world has so few studies on it”.
The Murcian Institute for Biosanitary Research has an open investigation on endemeotrosis, and with the objective of analyzing the advance in the knowledge of the molecular mechanisms by which macrophages are activated, cells in charge of detecting, attacking and destroying harmful bacteria and organisms.
However, the institution is carrying out a donation campaign to be able to finance itself and reach 25,000 euros, since the budget allocation is low.
María Jesús considers the lack of support for these investigations “shameful” and insists that “patients cannot continue without a cure and without treatments based on chemical menopauses, hormonal treatments or drastic surgical interventions.”
The head of gynecology at Quirón Tenerife affirms that patients can do little from a preventive point of view, especially when there is a genetic predisposition to suffer from the disease.
Even so, the doctor assures that lifestyle and stress control can help to avoid activating silent or inactive foci of endometriosis.
José Antonio Pérez believes in prevention through medicine and remembers that secondary endometriosis can also develop as a result of surgical acts, such as caesarean sections.
“A good surgical act, with a refined technique, and a good closure of the uterine wall will be a preventive measure against future endometriosis in the wall of the uterus or abdomen,” he comments.
The specialist explains that one of the difficulties of endometriosis is the dissociation between the patient’s symptoms and endometriotic observations: there are patients with disabling pain without major presence of the disease, and in others with mild or occasional pain, the opposite occurs.
Regarding the criticism that the sick leave due to painful periods has received, María Jesús states that she feels “tremendous indignation because a women’s problem is being questioned”, she also believes that it is a feminine stigma.
The belief that endometriosis patients will stop suffering from pain if they give birth is false for the author and creates pressure on women to become mothers: “The greatest number of diagnoses occurs during the attempt to become pregnant, that is, they cannot be mothers and then they discover that they have endometriosis”.
Precisely in surgeries, José Antonio Pérez highlights that gynecological teams try to be “as conservative and decisive as possible because they condition the reproductive capacity of women.”
This generates conflicts for those affected since, if they only receive the diagnosis for trying to get pregnant, they take away the possibility of knowing the disease to the rest of the women who do not want to be mothers, and according to María Jesús “we cannot make that differentiation because both conditions they are brutally painful.”
The writer has also assessed “that in the Canary Islands there is an increasing commitment and multidisciplinary care is needed that takes into account other medical specializations capable of improving the quality of life such as nutrition, physiotherapy and psychology”.
As confirmed by the doctor, 5% of gynecology consultations for endometriosis present the disease in its “most aggressive phase, with psychological disorders and suicidal ideas”, a fact that María Jesús corroborates because “living with paralyzing pain prevents you from living your life”.
Currently, María Jesús is not afraid to talk about her disease and believes that “more and more of us are deciding to give visibility to endometriosis”, she has stressed that this is possible “thanks to the commitment of the medical community” that they are doing ” an impressive job to end gender bias in the profession.”
The gynecologist José Antonio Pérez assures by the end of this 2023, Quirón Tenerife will have an endometriosis unit that will allow comprehensive care for patients with suspicions or previous diagnoses in this pathology.
This new service will incorporate robotic surgery, which allows access to deeper territories with surgical materials with mobility of up to 360 degrees.
“Not only does it provide greater effectiveness, it also allows for better recovery, which involves a reduced hospital stay and less post-surgical pain,” added Pérez.
The doctor has assured that the future specialized unit will be important not only for medical and surgical treatment, but will also avoid the high rate of recurrence of symptoms, which will reach 40% in the next five years. EFE