Pain during menstrual periods is something all women around the world deal with. Sravya, too, has been suffering from this pain her entire life. However, her situation is quite different than what we go through on a monthly basis.
Sravya Paluri is a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She was born and brought up in India and is currently studying in Canada. About two years ago, she developed endometriosis, a chronic incurable disease where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows around it onto other organs, tying them together.
"I really struggled to be taken seriously by Canadian doctors- they did not believe my pain, refused to take an ultrasound and refused to refer my case to a gynecologist. Consequently, my uterine tumor went undiagnosed for months together along with my endometriosis. To make matters worse, we discovered later that the birth control pills they gave to control the pain contained high levels of estrogen, which might have even promoted tumor growth. My endometriosis worsened so much over a few months, that I was in pain every single day for every single minute, irrespective of my menstrual cycle. Unable to handle my mental agony and physical pain, I took a break from my studies, mentally preparing to never come back. I went back to India to be with my family and realized that the private health care in India is way better than Candian healthcare. My tumor was taken out, but again my pain from endometriosis was disregarded. I struggled to be believed by Indian doctors too."
Thankfully, however, she was able to find doctors who could reduce her pain. After her surgery, the pain only occurs during menstrual cycles. This has allowed her to continue her PhD studies. What is surprising is that though it is one of the most painful diseases someone could have (endometriosis affects 10% of all women today), there is no awareness about it in society.
"During my journey of understanding what endometriosis is, I realized that it affects 10% of all women, and it takes on average of 7-8 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis. This is partly because women are told that ‘period pain is normal’. It is infuriating to realized that so many women suffer either in silence or are dismissed by doctors. This is a worldwide problem, and women from all countries have recently started complaining about it. It is strange that inspire of growing up in a privileged society, I had never heard of it before."
Millions of women like Sravya suffer daily but have no knowledge of the cause behind their pain. Sravya has worked to raise awareness in the community of endometriosis and other menstrual health diseases. Her courage and strength has motivated those around her. Hopefully, this situation changes in the upcoming decade though the effort of raising awareness by citizens around the world like Sravya Paluri.