March is Endometriosis Awareness month..... Wow! I couldn't believe it when Allie told me that her disease actually has it's own awareness month.
Exciting, and yet, somehow, rather frightening.
I am only beginning to understand the scope of this debilitating disease. I was happy to think that we could just deal with it twice a month when the pain hits, and then forget about it.....
I was wrong.
The more research I do, the more I realize what we are dealing with. In hopes to get help for Allie and to raise awareness for other mothers out there, I am going to really focus on this disease this month on my blog. We plan to order t-shirts and have the girls wear them at school, and Allie is hoping to do an interview at her high school.
Today, to kick off Endometriosis Awareness Month, I am posting some information about the disease itself. I don't know where I'm headed with all of this, but it's on my heart, and I truly believe that God has HIS firm grip on all of this..... we are not alone. Allie has been given this, our family has been given this, for a reason. God is good. We will continue to praise HIM as we march down this path that has been laid at our feet!
~Endometriosis is a painful reproductive and immunological disease in which tissue similar to the uterine lining (endometrium) migrates outside the womb and implants in other areas of the body. The disorder, for which there is no absolute cure, affects nearly 176 million women and girls globally (Adamson et al. J of Endometriosis 2010;2 (IN PRESS). Often stigmatized as simply “killer cramps,” symptoms include painful periods, pelvic pain at any point in a woman or girl's cycle, infertility, pain with sexual activity, gastrointestinal and urinary tract difficulties and much more. The disease can even implant in areas like lungs, diaphragm, and in some cases, the brain. Endometriosis affects women and girls from all walks of life ranging from adolescence to post-menopause, and can be so painful and life-altering as to significantly impair a woman or girl’s ability to care for herself, her family, pursue her career, attend school or social functions, or go about her normal routine.
Moreover, research has shown an elevated risk of certain cancers and autoimmune disorders in those with Endometriosis, as well as malignant changes within the disease itself. Researchers remain unsure as to the definitive cause of Endometriosis, which can only be diagnosed through surgery, though studies indicate that genetics, immune dysfunction and exposure to environmental toxicants may be contributing factors. The economic impact of Endometriosis is staggering: businesses lose, literally, *billions* of dollars each year in lost productivity and work time because of the disease.
Endometriosis is more than just “painful periods.” The disease remains misdiagnosed, misunderstood and ineffectively treated, despite being one of the most prevalent causes of hysterectomy, infertility and pelvic pain in women and girls around the globe. Despite hallmark symptoms, the average delay in diagnosis continues to remain an astounding 9 years, and a patient will seek the counsel of 5 or more physicians before her pain is adequately addressed. It is not unusual for a patient to undergo repeated surgeries and embark on different medical therapies; none offering long-term relief and many carrying highly negative side effects. A growing number of younger women are also being diagnosed annually, with studies indicating that as many as 70% of teenagers with chronic pelvic pain ultimately have Endometriosis as proven by surgery. Studies have also shown that Endometriosis may have an even bigger impact on younger patients: in those under 22 years of age, the rate of recurrence was double that of older women (35% versus 19%). Studies revealed that the disease behaves differently in younger women, leading researchers to believe it may be a different form of Endometriosis altogether.