How much do you know about endometriosis?
1 in 10 women from puberty to menopause are affected by it, yet many of us are unaware of the severity of the chronic condition. That’s probably due to its association with the menstrual cycle, which is often considered taboo and marginalised as a “woman’s issue”.
However, March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, a much-needed opportunity to shine a light on this under-discussed condition and provide our community with the resources you need to be informed about your health.
Endometriosis is the condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. It can cause chronic pain, painful periods, pain during sex, fatigue, infertility and depression, among other symptoms.
When one of the Vivo Life team shared a loved one’s personal experience with endometriosis and brought the issue to our attention, we discovered that there were several of us who are impacted day to day by endometriosis, and have experienced first hand the lack of education and awareness that contributes to delays in endometriosis diagnosis.
It took one of our team members 7 years after first experiencing symptoms of severe pain and heavy bleeding for her case to be taken seriously and get referred for a diagnostic laparoscopy. This isn’t uncommon: for many, it can take up to 10 years to receive the correct diagnosis.
From our experiences, we discovered a pattern of a general ‘suck it up’ mentality, which is often the attitude towards gynaecological issues. Advice from doctors was mainly to take paracetamol, have a hot bath, and wait for the pain to subside - because they’ve bought into myths about having a “low pain threshold” or chronic period pain being “normal”.
But it’s not normal to miss out on work, school, or social outings because of pelvic pain. It’s not normal to not be able to make plans for fear of how you’ll feel from one day to the next. It’s not okay to be suffering from depression and low mood as a result of chronic pain.
Hearing our employees’ experiences made us sit up, listen and take action - which is why we’re now an Endometriosis Friendly Employer! It enables us to further support our employees and their families affected by endometriosis, help break the taboo and stigma around it, and develop a work environment where all of our staff are comfortable talking about their gynaecological health and adjustments that can be made to it.
Think about 10 women you know. 1 of them is probably suffering from endometriosis. That’s why it’s so important to encourage open conversations about menstruation, be it in the workplace, your family or your social circle. We should all know what is normal, so we have the power to recognise what’s not normal. Overcoming taboos requires getting uncomfortable. Let’s work together to end the stigma.