The Stigma Behind Endometriosis

  • by Cinestie Olson

Written by Cinestie Olson

If you happen to know at least 10 people with a uterus, chances are they could be dealing with endometriosis. According to the National Library of Medicine, 10% of the population that menstruates or has menstruated has endometriosis. Endometriosis is a menstrual disease where the tissue of the uterus is not in the uterus. It grows outside the uterus and can be found instead in your fallopian tubes, ovaries, vaginal canal, bladder, intestines, rectum, and in extreme cases to your diaphragm. It can cause debilitating pain, both physically and mentally. To learn more, check out our last year’s blog post all about endometriosis. Seems pretty severe, right? You may think so, but so many people with endometriosis have been pushed to the side about this menstrual disease.

It’s been reported by the Alliance of Endometriosis that every month, 90% of people with endometriosis have been dismissed, ignored, or disbelieved by friends, family, and even healthcare providers. The most common labeling symptom is that “it’s normal” to have period pain. Um, HELLO?!? We know that periods can be uncomfortable. They can be annoying, they can give us cramps that make us stop our tracks, but they should not be as painful to the point where we have to miss school, work, or devastate the rest of our day.

Due to this dismissal of pain and the pain itself, many uterus-owners face more than a physical sensation. They face mental debilitation as well. Many have stated that their pain has them feeling miserable, hopeless, defeated, and some have considered (trigger warning) life-ending thoughts. So, why is this still an issue? If so many people experience this disease and the pain that comes with it, why is there still no cure, a lack of research, and so many people dismissed by their healthcare providers?

The answer (and it may surprise you) is that research and funding is significantly lower in female anatomical healthcare (yeah, we lied about the answer being “surprising”). According to Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., nearly 75% of cases where a disease affects more males is significantly overfunded, while diseases that affect more females are severely underfunded. Even in diseases that affect both sexes, males are more represented in studies - cardiovascular disease kills more females than males, but only a third of females are “participants of clinical trials in new treatments.” Endometriosis and other menstrual diseases that affect female bodies are hard to cure and hard to diagnose, simply (or not so simply) because there is such a lack in research and funding. 

We may not be able to change the entire healthcare system in one day, but what can we do now? The Alliance for Endometriosis is a foundation entirely dedicated to making those with endometriosis have better lives. Through open conversations from people with endometriosis, they hope to eliminate the stigma, speed up diagnoses, have better education, and more improved treatments. Check out their website to see their efforts on how to make endometriosis less stigmatized and how you can help!

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