Every March 14 marks the World Endometriosis Day, with the aim of raising awareness and making visible a disease that, in Argentina alone, affects around a million women, between 15 and 50 years old. It is also, one of the main causes of infertility.
During the discussion “Endometriosis on the Legislative Agenda“, promoted by the deputy of the Frente de Todos Jimena López, the Directorate of Equality of the Chamber of Deputies and EndoHermanas Argentina, it was claimed that This pathology is included in the Mandatory Medical Program (PMO) and a comprehensive law for the treatment of the disease is enacted.
On Tuesday, starting at 12 noon, another group of national deputies and senators from Together for Change will hold a meeting in the annex of the Senate with specialists from the University of San Luis who prepared a bill for the comprehensive care of endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder that causes tissue similar to that which normally lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) to grow outside the uterus, most commonly affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue that covers the pelvis.
In Argentina, although there are no official data, it is estimated that there are around one million women affected by the disease.
“Many of the women who have endometriosis we have pain similar to contractions every time we menstruate, also hemorrhages; some have pain when having sexual intercourse and a not lesser percentage have fertility problems”described Alicia Sánchez Abella, president of EndoHermanas Argentina, when mentioning the symptoms of the disease.
Likewise, Sánchez Abella, who today is 55 years old and received the diagnosis at 44 after having spent his entire life with the ailments described, assured that, beyond the biological consequences, endometriosis has a psychological, social and cultural impact.
“First, there is a misunderstanding of what is happening to you on the part of the environment. The idea that ‘it can’t hurt so much’, that you ‘exaggerate’, is present all the time. And we know that there are times when the pain not allowed to get out of bed, or that the bleeding is so abundant that we have to wear diapers,” he added.
“The psychological impact of these crises is very strong,” she added. “Many girls suffer violence from their partners, for example, because they have pain when having sex. But, in addition, since talking about menstruation is a taboo subject in many places yet, the disease affects the possibility of developing a normal life”.
Reaching a diagnosis is also not easy: “Despite the fact that it is estimated that one in ten women suffers from it, and that even in recent times it is said that it affects three out of ten, health professionals do not suspect this disease when a menstruating person says that it hurts,” warned Sánchez Abella.
The disease is not included as chronic within the Mandatory Medical Plan and, Thus, social works and prepaid do not provide adequate coverage. “A treatment costs an average of 5,000 pesos and, in the best of cases, coverage is 40%, but many colleagues do not have coverage and must pay the full amount, which makes it inaccessible,” warned the head of EndoHermanas Argentina.
“Neither is there investment in research. So far we only have treatments that allow the control of the disease, but not a cure,” he described.
EndoHermanas emerged in 2017, after the death of a woman while undergoing surgery to remove the tissue that had adhered to her intestine. Since then, in Argentina there have been several bills that contemplated including endometriosis in the PMO, but all of them lost parliamentary status.
Currently, the Chamber of Deputies is debating the initiative promoted by Deputy Jimena López, the same legislator who accompanies the EndoHermanas campaigns to make the disease visible.