Social stigma preventing uterine prolapse patients from treatment

Published On: April 5, 2018 07:05 AM NPT By: Daman Rai

KHOTANG, April 5: It's hard to imagine the pain of a woman whose uterus protrudes out of the vagina following a third degree prolapse. A Dalit woman of Rakhabandel, Aiselukharka Rural Municipality-1 in the district has been bearing with this pain for the last 33 years.

She suffered from uterine prolapse after giving birth to her youngest daughter in 1985. Lack of timely treatment made her weak and fragile. She got married at the age of 14 and delivered her first child at 16. A mother of two, she is now 53 years old. Her family members refused to take her for treatment due to various kinds of social stigmas.

Similarly, another woman of the same village with Khatri surname has been suffering from prolapsed uterus for the last 16 years. Now 54, Khatri got married at the age of 15 and has three children. Even after so many years, she has kept this problem a secret.

 These two are just representative cases. A large number of women in the rural parts of the district prefer to hide this problem due to the fear of being ill-treated and ostracized by society. Though women with prolapsed uterus don't die immediately, they have to live in pain due to the infection. The fear of being hated and ostracized compels these women to keep their suffering in the dark instead of getting treatment.

The Center for Environment and Agriculture Development (CEAD) has been conducting programs related to women's reproductive health in the district. Uterus related problems were identified in 65 women of Rakhabandel and 26 women of Kepilasgadhi Rural Municipality-6, Dipsung. Similarly, this problem was seen in 35 women of Yamkha, Diprung Chuichamcha Rural Municipality-1, and in more than 50 women of ward no.7, Temma of the same rural municipality.  It was revealed that the women were suffering from uterine prolapse after they shared their problems during an interaction, according to Sushma Pandit, Gender and SRHR Officer at CEAD, Khotang. Even the details of local health posts make it clear that the condition of women's reproductive health is miserable in the district.

During a screening camp conducted on January 27, 23 out of 58 women had prolapsed uterus.  Those women were suffering from different stages of uterine prolapse. For third degree prolapse, surgery is the only option. It is common among older women but can also happen to young girls. Early marriage and pregnancy is the major reason behind this problem. Women in the rural parts give many births with the expectation of getting a son and they also do backbreaking work immediately after pregnancy. This leads to uterine prolapse in most cases.

 Dr Ram Bahadur KC, chief of the District Public Health Office (DPHO) informed Republica that a sampling conducted among women aged 25 to 60 years showed that 25 to 30% women have uterus related problems. "After the sampling, we found that around 10 to 15 % women need a surgery," said Dr KC.

So far, CEAD has helped in the surgery of 11 women of Khotang.

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