Endometriosis versus Erectile Dysfunction – the numbers are staggering

A lot of my posts are drafted for days while I gather stats, and mull over the most politically correct way to convey information without sounding too bias or uninformed. But every once in a while I get the motivation to write something off the cuff; something that comes from my innermost emotions and bubbles up into (what I think is) a profound piece.

This morning while making some eggs I put on a TedTalk for some daily mojo. This morning it happened to be Ashley Judd’s Ted Talk: How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control.  It is a very candid tale of women who are being called such names as C–T, Bitch, and other slanderous titles on social media, with the depictions of abuse and rape mixed in. It wasn’t the most uplifting topic per se, but her delivery was so empowering. It got me thinking about a topic I tend to gravitate to in my brain but so often have to mute my feelings on the topic depending on my audience. That topic is how women have to deal with periods and period pain, yet if this was a male dominant problem we would have found the solution centuries ago.

The reality is this. Refute me if you’d like but I’ll smash it with stats.

About 5% of men (0.5 in every 10) experience erectile dysfunction at the age of 40, and the percentages go up with age. This mere but loud 0.5 in ten men were blessed with a drug called Viagra which showed promise in the early 1990s and was launched by Pfizer in 1998. Thereafter three other comparable PDE5 inhibitor drugs have come on the market to assist with erectile dysfunction. These drugs, in varying degrees cause headaches, nausea, flushing and potentially some vision problems. These in my opinion are low concerning side effects and you’d be hard pressed to get a day off work for any of them alone, let alone together. A simple google search will show you that the erectile dysfunction treatment market was $7 Billion in 2017 and is estimated to hit $7 Billion in 2023. Sadly these are the numbers in which pharmaceutical companies, therapeutic companies and CROs are invested in. One person alone will take one oral pill half an hour before sex, and it is recommended that they should not take more than one a day. That doesn’t preclude them from taking a single pill EVERY DAY! If you add up how many pills a man might take in his lifetime, thats a hot commodity and a booming market. But it can come to a pharma company’s detriment if the price of such a drug can be prohibitive to repeat orders. Thus, drum roll please…. Pfizer now offers a generic brand for only $20 (as compared to $63 USD  for the name brand).

Ladies I cannot tell you how much this makes me mad.

Women in Canada alone, which is a fairly accurate representation of the world, suffer from a number of diseases which cause infertility. In 2009-2010 the prevalence of infertility in Canada was 15% (ladies, thats 1.5 in every 10 women) and I’m sure the numbers go up with age, although not reported. Fertility, of all the women-centric issues, gains a lot of attention from the vantage point that women are meant to be child rearing. And if we can’t accomplish the one thing we should be good at (or rather, if we are willing to spend money to rectify this issue) it creates a very expensive market for IVF and various other hormonal therapies.

But let’s take fertility off the table for a second. What if I don’t want to have children? What if I can’t have children and don’t want children? What if I want children but have decided its too much for my body? Likewise, what if I’m not ready to start having children yet?

 Around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime. You can suffer from period pain from your early teens right up to the menopause. Most women experience some discomfort during menstruation, especially on the first day. But in 5% to 10% of women the pain is severe enough to disrupt their life. If your mother suffered period pains, you are more likely to suffer too. In 40% of women, period pain is accompanied by premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating, tender breasts, a swollen stomach, lack of concentration, mood swings, clumsiness and tiredness. – women’s health concern

Woah ladies. Let’s back up a second here. So, 80% of women (8 in 10 women) experience period pain at some point in their lives, 5%-10% (0.5-1 in every 10 women) have pain severe enough to disrupt their lives and 40% (4 in 10 women) have period pain accompanied with a number of symptoms that should be worth taking a day off work. Yet if we take a look at medications to treat painful periods (dysmenorrhea), we have a plethora of birth control pills that alter our moods, our weight, our cycles and prohibit us from getting pregnant should we choose. Other stats have reported even higher percentages of dysmenorrhea up to 20%. twenty percent of women!! (2 in every 10 women) – thats 4 times the amount of erectile dysfunctions!!

Within those stats above, we know that certain diseases such as PCOS, Adenomyosis and Endometriosis can dramatically affect a woman’s life and certainly throw a curve ball in pregnancy. PCOS affects 6-10% of women in Canada (0.6-1 in every 10 women); Adenomyosis has no stats on prevalence because the number of misdiagnoses confound these results but the numbers are upwards of 14-44% of women; endometriosis affects 10% of women (1 in every 10 women). And while some of these women may be counted twice in these stats, the reality is there are no medications for adenomyosis and endometriosis; nothing to treat the pain, nothing to solve the root of the cause, and absolutely no cure.

Endometriosis comes with a tagline: It takes 20 years and 10 doctors to be diagnosed with endometriosis. 

Pardon me, what other disease comes with staggering stats attached to it like that?!? That’s insane.

For most women who suffer from pain and are not ready to conceive, the remedy is birth control as mentioned above. This is intended to help regulate the cycle and to reduce the symptoms, but as many writers have shown recently, the bleeding from birth control is not your period nor should it be deemed normal. Furthermore, if conception is not on the cards, surgery tends to be the gold standard for diagnosis and for treatment although NOTHING cures either of these diseases.

In 1985 a drug by the name of Lupron was released into the market for prostate cancer. Ladies… prostate cancer. We don’t have a prostate. The mechanism of action is to shut off the production of sex hormones and thus the drug was repurposed in 2001 for treatment of endometriosis. Again, similar but different than the birth control pill, the treatment is hormone based and is intended to shut down the hormones that seemingly have a play in exacerbating endometrial growths. While some women have found reprieve in this drug, many more have not. We always caution women to think about their own bodies and make informed decisions about their healthcare with their loved ones and their practitioner. If Lupron seems like the best drug for you, do it girl! The reality however, is that Lupron comes with a price; literally and figuratively. Unlike the blue pill our male counterparts can take to float their boat (if you will) with few side effects, our three injections (injections! not pills by the bedside) reportedly may cause…

these…

  • hot flashes, excessive sweats
  • gastrointestinal problems, nausea, vomiting
  • decreased libido
  • muscle or joint pain
  • weakness
  • breast tenderness/pain and/or vaginitis (infection or inflammation of the vagina)
  • emotional changes such as feeling depressed
  • headache/migraine
  • upset sleep
  • nervousness/rapid heart beat
  • edema (swelling, water retention)
  • weight gain or loss
  • skin reaction at the injection site such as itching, redness, burning, and/or swelling
  • acne
  • menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)

and these…

Side effects reported after the drug was available for sale
(postmarketing) include:
● convulsion
● liver problems, including serious liver injury
● serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid)
● inflammation of the lung (interstitial lung disease)
● pituitary apoplexy; symptoms include sudden headache,
vomiting, visual changes, problem with eye muscle movement
(ophthalmoplegia), altered mental status, and sometimes
cardiovascular collapse

Ladies, holy fuck! convulsions? Liver problems? come on?!? hey if this is working for you and the side effects are minimal, power to you girl. But this is not acceptable and NO MAN WOULD ACCEPT THIS.  Lupron’s oral counterpart, Orilissa, seems to be gaining more traction by endo warriors and has way less side effects apparent. But the price tag on these medications is thousands of dollars with a full stop on how many we can have, and how long it will actually work.

The last time I went to see my doctor I had a Mirena IUD put in and this elicited all kinds of depression. I was depressed. My vagina was depressed. And forever will I feel like an android is living way up where no man has been before. Literally, I feel like the little android arms are hanging on to my cervix for dear life so not to plummet to its death through my birthing canal. It sucks, and everyone keeps telling me I’m going to love it. I am not even using it for birth control I’m using it to stop my periods and try to prevent the endo lesions on my diaphragm from poking a fucking hole in my lung. That’s a real thing! I was told it would take up to 9 months before the android would start to prove itself worthy and I was cautioned that the process would cause cramping and light bleeding. What I didn’t know was that I would have chunks of endometrial tissue excreted from my lining and out my vagina. I also had not appreciated that many women before me experienced this ’tissue issue’ with or without an IUD but with the common denominator being endo or adeno. I was not worried, I chalked it up as part of the game. Can you imagine a man being ok with chunks of tissue falling out of his dick? And thinking ‘well it’s all part of the game’ (*shrug*)??? Hell no! How did this become a new norm???

So we come full circle under the banner of what we as society have deemed acceptable for women and what men seem to take for granted. And somehow, both Ashley Judd and I focused on vaginas. I knew we were meant to be friends. LOL.

 

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