Hey fam!

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endo is a condition that, in the United States, affects 11% of people born with a uterus. That’s 6.5 million people nationwide! According to the World Health Organization, the stats are comparable globally, affecting about 10% of people born with a uterus.

First let’s start with, what the heck is endometriosis? The uterus is lined with something called endometrial tissue.  Each menstrual period, this tissue swells with blood and it eventually sheds. The body grows a new lining of endometrium with each menstrual cycle. Endometriosis is a disease where endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus and on other areas of the body where it doesn’t belong. Endometriosis growths may swell and bleed in the same way the lining of the uterus does every month — during one’s menstrual period. Ouch! This can cause inflammation and incredible pain because the overgrown tissue actually swells and bleeds in an area of the body where there’s little to no room for it to grow and where the blood cannot shed out of the body. Imagine a swollen bloody growth on your stomach, liver, intestines, or ligaments.

In addition to debilitating pain and bleeding during and in between menstrual cycles, endometriosis can also cause pain during intercourse, GI issues, and most commonly infertility. How? Well, patches of endometriosis block off or actually change the shape of the pelvis and reproductive organs. This can make it harder for the sperm to find the egg. Endo also impacts the body’s immune response. Once fertilization occurs, the immune system, which normally helps defend the body against disease, may attack the embryo as a foreign entity.

Because Endo causes vague symptoms that present as other conditions, endometriosis is often misdiagnosed for YEARS. According to the organization Endo Black, “on average, it may take 6 to 10 years to be diagnosed. As for African American women and women of color, it may take 11 to 15 years for a diagnosis.”  It occurs in folks ages 15-40, whose menstrual cycle lasts longer than 7 days, and there is evidence that there is a genetic component. There are some non-surgical forms of treatment for Endometriosis like hormone based therapies, as well as surgical treatments such as laparoscopic excisions (removal) and ablations (heat blasted destruction, pyew pyew!).

Why is it important for you to know all of this? If you know and love someone who presents with some of these symptoms and/or whom has a family history of Endo, share this information with them. A confirmed diagnosis could be the key to resolving years/decades of life altering symptoms. I also want to call in more empathy for menstruating folks who have such painful and long lasting cycles, that their life literally stops for weeks at a time. 

This month we bring awareness to this debilitating disease, affecting millions of people worldwide, in the hopes that with more research we can find a definitive cause and cure for Endometriosis.  

 

In Gratitude and Solidarity,

Doula Jo

For more information visit the following sites for more education on Endometriosis.

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