Only 4 women out of 10 know what their pelvic floor is. And this is even more terrifying if we consider that almost 30 percent of women will develop a pelvic floor disorder, at some point in their lives.
We have been dealing with the topics of pelvic floor, pelvic pain and endometriosis for a while - you can catch up our previous articles here and here - and today we'd like to point out a few more information about these topics.
You may also like: What and Where is Your Pelvic Floor and Why Should You Care at Any Age?
Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis
Do you know what your pelvic floor is?
It is the group of muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that support the pelvic organs; bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. If you feel pain between your navel and thigh area, this is known as pelvic pain.
How common is pelvic pain?
Pelvic pain is a common presentation in primary care and one of the most common reasons for referral to a gynaecologist. Pelvic floor pain and dysfunctions can arise from age, weight, daily habits, pregnancy or hereditary conditions. Pain may start as early as the pre-teen years. Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) affects 1 out of 7 women, compared to 1 out of 10 men. A UK study found CPP affects 14.8% of women aged over 25 years.
Here are some stats of symptoms and conditions: 1 in 3 women suffer urine incontinence and over 70% believe it’s normal and not treatable. 20% suffer from dyspareunia, 40% of UTIs develop into chronic UTIs and 48% suffer from some level of prolapse.
The dangers of disbelieving female pain:
Endometriosis; a severe disorder in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside it, causing inflammation and pain. It affects 1 in 10 women in the UK. It can also be experienced by people who are intersex, transgender or non-binary.
On average, it takes seven or more years after reporting symptoms for endometriosis to be diagnosed. There is no sign of progress; a UK survey from 2011 showed a seven and a half year wait. The figures look much worse for ethnic minorities. For example, Black women are only half as likely to be diagnosed compared to white women.
A survey by BMI Healthcare found 90% of sufferers felt their mood had been affected by endometriosis, while 69% felt their self-esteem had been negatively impacted. A shocking 27% of participants said they had considered or attempted self-harm because of the condition.
Why has pain not been taken seriously?
Women were excluded from clinical trials in most parts of the world until the 1990s. As research was mostly conducted and written by men, they were more focused on men. 70% of the people impacted by chronic pain are women. However, 80% of pain studies are conducted on male mice or men. We need more investment in female research and better access to pain management to close the symptom to diagnosis gap.
Where are we now?
Although the gender pain gap has a long way to go, there are signs of progress: In 2017, the NHS issued a dictum that doctors must “listen to women'' to improve diagnosis of endometriosis. Thankfully through hard work and awareness, more people are starting to understand it - Endometriosis Awareness Month has been a major contributing factor.