Cross section of participants at the annual Endometriosis walk in Lagos, recently

By Martins Ifijeh

In a bid to put a stop to Endometriosis, which has been causing untold hardship among Nigerian women and girls, residents of Lagos dared the heavy Saturday rain to walk against the pain and trauma of endometriosis.

The Endometriosis walk, which was facilitated by the Endometriosis Support Group of Nigeria (ESGN) a not-for-profit organisation (NGO) in conjunction with Nordica Fertility Centre, started from Muson Centre, Onikan to Nigerian Law School in Victoria Island, both in Lagos, and terminated at the starting point.

Endometriosis is an incurable gynaecological disorder that occurs when the endometrium (cells lining the uterus) grow in other areas of the body. Women with the disorder readily feel pain, irregular bleeding and have problems getting pregnant.

Speaking during the walk, the Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, said despite the rain, people came out to support the fight against the scourge, adding that it showed that it was a health problem affecting many women and girls in the country.

“I didn’t imagine that people will walk in the rain and that gave me also a shot in the arm. But, it is still a drop in the ocean because women need to know how to manage the lifelong disorder endometriosis so that they can have quality life and enjoy their marriages.

“It is a chronic disease where tissues that are normally found lining the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body forming lesions. During menstrual flow, these lesions bleed in their locations leading to pain. The most common symptoms include chronic pelvic pain, painful bowel movement, menstrual pain and sometimes some degree of infertility ,” Ajayi noted.

Also speaking about her ordeal and long battle with endometriosis for 23 years, despite her professional success is Miss Magese. “I am involved in this because I have been with this endometriosis for 23 years and I kept quiet. Endometriosis forced me to remove my uterus, that I can’t have a child. That was what endometriosis cost me and the only solution for me is to remove my uterus which was the only way to have quality life again because that controlled all my life.”

She adds: “It has been 10 years since my diagnosis, and it has taken a total of 13 surgeries, multiple attempts to reopen my blocked fallopian tubes, a non-functional ovary, miscarriages, and three IVF egg-retrieval procedures during one IVF cycle for me to speak out.”

“The first time I started my story, I told my story in social media, I was summoned by the government of Tanzania who were shocked by my campaign to speak out. “Endometriosis has no known genetic links so what we should do is to raise more awareness so that we can help ourselves as women. It is something that even doctors themselves need to understand more. So I started running seminars with doctors and have been doing lot of awareness using social media and journalists to pass the message,” she said.

She advised girls not be ashamed of the disorder, but always speak out on any reproductive problems facing them. Her words: “I have one rule in life when it comes to health and making a change: when you can help someone, don’t allow shame and other people’s judgement to become an obstacle.”