Endometriosis affects one in 10 Finnish women, but often overlooked

Some 200,000 girls and women in Finland suffer from a painful medical condition called endometriosis, which doctors often fail to diagnose. Journalist Anne Ignatius says in her new book that one in 10 Finnish women have some form of the disorder.

Endometriosis is a condition in which cells similar to those in the layer of tissue (endometrium) that covers the inside of the uterus grow outside of it. The growths can cause debilitating pelvic pain, infertility and bowel symptoms.

Ignatius says it is important that the issue be discussed openly, as social stigma and lack of understanding worsen the psychological effects of the condition.

The chronic disorder is presently incurable but treatable with hormones and pain medication; in some cases surgery is also necessary.

Diagnoses scarce

Pia Suvitie, deputy chief of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at Turku University Hospital, says she frequently comes across patients with endometriosis who have received no medical treatment at all from numerous doctors.

"The basic healthcare system is very poor at identifying endometriosis. Not even all gynaecologists know to look for it," Suvitie says.

One of the most common symptoms is severe pain during menstruation or intercourse.

"The pain can be completely crippling," says Suvitie. "Sufferers may be unable to function for days or even a week at a time, and regular painkillers do not help."

On top of that, the disorder can lead to bowel symptoms such as diarrhoea and constipation.

While endometriosis most commonly affects women aged 30-40, Suvitie's recent dissertation finds that 5-10 percent of 15-19-year-old girls report intense pelvic pain that often keeps them from attending school.

Severity downplayed

Ignatius says she was shocked by how many women reported being belittled by doctors and acquaintances alike.

"It affects a patient's self-image immensely if no one seems to believe they are in pain," Ignatius says.

Not only that, but Ignatius says that the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) tends not to cover the costs of endometriosis medication, which patients have to pay for themselves. Even when support is granted, the sums are minimal.

One top worry for patients is the possibility of infertility. Fortunately, says Suvitie, modern fertility treatments show promise. About half of endometriosis patients are able to become pregnant without problems

yle.fi
Endometriosis Finnish women
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in december
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The ministry also wants the national communications regulator to determine whether Trafi's other consumer services can be safely restored on Wednesday. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has asked the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority Ficora, to assess data privacy and security on the web services of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Trafi. The request follows a recent public backlash to Trafi's decision to open an online database wh...
Society
Taking a train between Finland and Estonia will be possible by Christmas 2024, says the entrepreneur behind one of two massive tunnel projects being planned. Last week the FinEst Bay Area Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel project received 100 million euros from a Dubai-based construction group ARJ Holding – the first external financing made towards the estimated 15-billion-euro effort. Peter Vesterbacka - a man who made a fortune as a marketing boss at mobile gaming...
Incidents
Several protest marches took place in Helsinki on Thursday evening. Police intervened to forcibly remove swastika flags from Neo-Nazi demonstrators. Police said on Thursday that they will open an investigation into neo-Nazis flying swastika flags in downtown Helsinki. Four protesters had reportedly been taken into police custody. Two processions made their way through Helsinki city centre Thursday evening. The neo-Nazi Kohti vapautta ('toward freedom') dem...
Society
Most of Friday’s papers focus on Thursday's gala at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki where Finland's movers, shakers and honourees were invited to celebrate the nation’s 101 years of independence. Traditionally, media attention has centered on the best-dressed guests and this year was no exception. According to tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, among the most elegant invitees this year was MP Jaana Pelkonen, who wore a bright yellow sleeveless dress by French desig...
Society
Helsinki handed over five decommissioned trams on Monday, two of which will make their way to the Mikkeli city centre for display. Helsinki City Transport (HKL) handed over five antique trams to new owners on Monday after a competition to see where the decommissioned vehicles would be best suited. The HKL competition prompted 94 applications from across the country to receive the trams free of charge. Three of the trams will remain in Helsinki, while two w...
Society
People in Finland are prescribed more antibiotics than the EU average, police warn of neo-Nazi marches and the Finland 100 satellite blasted off. Finnish medical patients use broad-spectrum antibiotics more commonly than the EU average, even though bacteria in Finland are not especially resistant to antibiotic treatments. Daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that attacking a large number of different bacteria at once is all too common, and may lead to resistance...
Society
This year's Finnish National Prize went to a rock star, a fashion designer, a film director and others for their contributions to cultural life in Finland. The Finnish National Prize, an annual cultural award from the Ministry of Education and Culture, went to Henry "Remu" Aaltonen, the drummer and vocalist of the 1970s band Hurriganes; the fashion designer behind Ivana Helsinki, Paola Suhonen; and Academy Award nominated director Selma Vilhunen. This year...
Artist's impression of the proposed Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel
Dubai engineering solutions giant ARJ Holding Ltd is investing €100 million in the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel project, tunnel designer Peter Vesterbacka announced at a press conference on Monday. Mr Vesterbacka, chief of FinEst Bay Area, the group behind the tunnel project, pointed out the total cost of the tunnel stands at €15 billion, with an investment period of 30 years; the tunnel itself has a projected life span of 120 years, he said. Finest Bay Area Le...
Society
The volume of permits for apartment buildings plunged by more than half, a likely harbinger of an economic slowdown next year. Construction work for the Tripla complex in Helsinki's Pasila district. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle An exceptionally low number of new construction permits were granted from June to September, says Statistics Finland. Volume was down by 25.4 percent from a year earlier.  The biggest drop was in commercial and office buildings, wher...