In connection with Endometriosis Awareness Week (7-13 March), the World Endometriosis Society (WES) launched a video to help women across the globe recognise symptoms of this painful and debilitating disease before their long-term health and quality of life are affected.
One in 10 women of reproductive age worldwide are thought to have endometriosis, which is characterised by chronic pain: menstrual, pelvic, mid-cycle, during sex, during urination or bowel movements.
Lone Hummelshoj, secretary general of WES and well-known international campaigner for women with endometriosis, said:
“We have created this video to help educate women about what is normal, and what isn’t when it comes to pain and help them to recognise the symptoms of endometriosis in order to seek treatment early, before their long-term health is affected.
Endometriosis indiscriminately affects women during the prime years of their lives. The pain associated with endometriosis significantly affects these women’s ability to finish an education, build a career, maintain a relationship, have a sex life and, for many, compromises their fertility.
Unfortunately, we still see that when a woman seeks professional help, low awareness and a long, unclear referral process means she will typically wait years for a diagnosis and proper treatment. This has to change. Endometriosis is not a life-style disease – there is no prevention, but it can be treated.”
Don’t take no for an answer
Diana Wallis MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament, is a sufferer herself and campaigns for increased awareness of endometriosis. Before her diagnosis, Diana struggled against the dismissive attitude towards her symptoms:
“Over a period of 10 years, I was told ‘you’re working too hard as a professional woman –take it easy.’”
As a newly-wed Diana underwent a full hysterectomy, an operation that could have been avoided with earlier diagnosis and treatment of her endometriosis. She now calls for all young women who recognise symptoms described in the video to take action:
“Don’t be like me. Don’t take no for an answer. If you feel something is wrong, you could have endometriosis. There are things that can be done to help you. Go and get advice, but also make others aware, because I don’t want you to end up like me”, said Wallis.
What is normal?
The video explains the prevalence, symptoms and treatments of the disease. WES President and Professor of Gynaecology at Maastricht University, Hans Evers, said:
“It’s difficult to say what is normal and what is not normal, but as a general rule women know what is too much pain. There is a difference between menstrual discomfort, and pain that prevents you from going about your daily life.”
Professor Evers appealed directly to young women, and asks them:
“Endometriosis is a serious, chronic disease that requires treatment. I would like to invite women to take the initiative and see their doctor to have endometriosis diagnosed.”