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How to tell the difference between bad cramps and endometriosis

By Gardy Chacha | 3 years ago | 2 min read

Pain during menstruation is not unusual, says Dr Kireki Omanwa, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and an IVF specialist and lecturer at University of Nairobi’s medical school.

However, he says, there is a complete difference between pain due to endometriosis and period pain in an otherwise healthy lady.

“Pain caused by endometriosis is a stabbing kind of pain while pain associated with normal menstruation is merely cramps and some discomfort,” he says.

Indeed, Amina Mohammed, 28, a patient of endometriosis, confirms that the disease presents with pain “that feels like you are being stabbed repeatedly while the knife is also being twisted.”

 Amina Mohammed

Endometriosis, it seems, requires a keen eye to detect. According to Linda Nyadero, she was misdiagnosed for nearly a decade.

“I was treated for Urinary tract infection (UTI), stress and depression, pelvic inflammatory disease IPID) for a long time,” she says.

One time, she says, a doctor informed her that she had bad hygiene. Desperate to find a solution, she bought a bunch of panties that she used once and discarded much like a baby’s diaper.

“I did not want to infect myself because of ‘bad hygiene’,” she says. “But even this expensive venture of cleanliness did not work.”

According to Dr Omanwa, endometriosis often affects a patient psychologically because it lowers the quality of life.

“The symptoms are horrible – especially when the disease has progressed to stage three or four. Symptoms may include bloody stool and difficult bowel movements, difficulty urinating, painful intercourse and so on,” Dr Omanwa explains.

In Amina’s and Linda’s cases they both recall vomiting and painful running stomachs.

“I began menstruating at age 12. I was diagnosed at 19. By that time I had gone through a lot,” Amina says.

Endometriosis, Amina says, can make one feel quite lonely. In 2016, she joined support group Endo-sisters East Africa where she serves as a board member today.

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