Family Health West has joined countless organizations around the world to promote March as Endometriosis Awareness Month. Many people have probably never heard of this condition although it affects 1 in 10 girls and women in the United States and 176 million women worldwide, according to the Endometriosis Foundation of America. This means that if you know 10 women, you probably know endometriosis.
“Endometriosis is the most common cause of pelvic pain in women, can cause distortion and scarring within the body, and can lead to infertility for many,” wrote Patrick Pevoto, MD of Grand Mesa Women’s Health Care in the March practice blog. “Endometriosis is when these cells that are only supposed to be composing the endometrial lining somehow grow in other areas of the body, usually in the pelvis behind the uterus, around the ovaries, on or near the intestines, but occasionally in more distant areas of the body.”
Even though this disease affects so many women, there is a lack of awareness and information about endometriosis which causes it to be routinely stigmatized by society as “killer cramps.” This stigma often creates a delay in diagnosis and effective care for suffering women because they may feel alone, unsupported and too embarrassed to ask for help.
One female employee at Family Health West was diagnosed last year with endometriosis and she felt the urge to speak out and encourage other women to get checkups. When asked why she felt that more people were not aware of the disease, she answered, “Talking about menstrual cycles and periods is awkward and it’s one thing that women suffer silently from. Plus, they are told from a young age that bad cramps are normal, but they really are not.”
Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis at this time but there are some treatments available. “Surgical removal and treatment can lead to a temporary respite and help with becoming and/or staying pregnant,” continues Dr. Pevoto. “Use of oral contraceptives offer a minimal, yet sometimes effective way to keep this disorder in check.” Other treatment options are available, but the effects are only temporary with 2-5 years of benefit at the most.
Family Health West is promoting endometriosis awareness throughout the month of March via social media and by encouraging the staff to wear yellow (the color to promote awareness) on Friday, March 18. The dietary team will serve yellow cupcakes that day at Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center and yellow flower bouquets will adorn the front desks at the hospital, the Courtyard Care Center and at Grand Mesa Women’s Health Care. Endometriosis informational fliers will be distributed at those locations as well.
Dr. Pevoto’s blog ends with a call to action, “You can participate by contributing to the Endometriosis Association, a non-profit organization that has the mission to promote awareness as well as fund research into a cure for this disease. You can join us on March 18 by wearing yellow to show your support for the many women who suffer from endometriosis.”
And to the people who know someone suffering from this disease, be it a family member or a friend, the female employee that was diagnosed with endometriosis shares a message of encouragement. “These women need your support. It’s hard to see the pain and understand it, but it’s so necessary. Thank you to the family members and friends who are there for them. That’s what we need at the time when it’s most agonizing.”