Endometriosis is the name of a chronic illness that occurs when the tissue that makes up the the lining of a woman’s womb is present on other organs inside of her body. In a healthy body when a woman goes through her period, the tissue that lines their uterus goes into their body and is discarded. However, with someone who suffers from endometriosis, that tissue sheds itself, but has nowhere to go.
Often debilitating, misdiagnosed and dismissed, Endo is an illness that one in ten women suffer from, and yet — we still don’t know much about it.
Due to this lack of awareness and education surrounding endometriosis, by both women and health care practitioners, the symptoms they experience are often normalized. Women are turned away by their doctors, being told that they should wait out their pain, and take simple medication like Tylenol to ease their discomfort. In some disheartening cases, women have been told by their doctors that they are simply just imagining their pain, or that their symptoms were a figment of their overactive minds.
Therefore, a vast majority of women are under-treated, and there is often a gap between the onset their symptoms and their confirmed diagnosis. Sometimes, women wait years, and have to visit multiple doctors before they can find one that will actually listen to them and work to diagnose their problem. Even then, it can take years to get a diagnosis, and during that time women suffer severe pain, and are often unable to socialize, have intimate relationships, or even work.
Lone Hummelshoj, the head of the World Endometriosis Research Foundation, and the World Endometriosis Society, has called the lack of funding for an illness that affects over 176 million women worldwide, a “major scandal.” Luckily, women have started to raise their voices about endometriosis, and a lot of supportive communities have been built out of their awareness projects. With celebrities like Halsey, and Sarah Hyland speaking up about their struggles with endo, and activists like Kathryn Watson and Emma Watkins, who use social media to spread their message and educate others who may be suffering in silence, knowledge surrounding the disease is increasing.
We sat down with different women suffering from endometriosis to further add to the conversation surrounding it, because in this case, when dealing with a chronic illness that is often discounted, or ignored, it is important to educate others on what they may be dealing with. Follow along with us as we continue to share what we discover about endometriosis from the vulnerable, and brave, women who are putting their stories out into the world in order to speak up for all of those whose lives have been shaken by an illness the world needs to know more about.
You can read their stories here.