Another way to get hands-on with spreading awareness during this year’s Blogging For Endometriosis Awareness campaign is to share statistics and yellow ribbons. If you work, place a list of stats in a frame on your desk with a bowl of yellow ribbons to share with coworkers or customers. Church may be another great place to pass our yellow ribbons. If you really get crafty, print off some of the stats on cardstock (make card 3″ x 5″ or so) and attach the yellow ribbon to the card. Yellow ribbons can be easily made by purchasing ribbon from a craft store (or craft aisle from Walmart or Dollar Tree – I got lucky there!), trim them to the perfect length, and secure with a safety pin!
Here are some statistics you can use:
- Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus (called “the endometrium”), is found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue. It is primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, on the bladder, and bowel. In very rare cases it has been found on the diaphragm and in the lungs1-2.
- Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world3-4. However, endometriosis can start as early as a girl’s first period and the menopause may not resolve the symptoms of endometriosis, especially if the woman has scar tissue or adhesions from the disease and/or surgery.
- The symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, painful ovulation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, abnormal bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility, and can impact on general physical, mental, and social well being.
- A general lack of awareness combined with a “normalisation” of symptoms results in a significant delay from when a woman first experiences symptoms until she eventually is diagnosed and treated.
- There is no known cure and, although endometriosis can be treated effectively with drugs, most treatments are not suitable for long-term use due to side-effects.
- Surgery can be effective to remove endometriosis lesions and scar tissue, but success rates are dependent on the extent of disease and the surgeon’s skills.
- Pregnancy may relieve symptoms but is not a cure for the disease.
- Hysterectomy, with surgical removal of all the disease at the same time, may relieve symptoms, but is not a “definitive cure” either. Removal of the ovaries at the same time as a hysterectomy is performed increases the chances of pain relief but also results in an immediate menopause.
- There is no known cause of endometriosis but it is highly likely that certain genes predispose women to develop the disease. Thus, women have a higher risk of developing endometriosis if their mother and/or sister(s) are also affected. It is also likely that environmental factors influence whether a woman is affected: for example, in a few papers it has been suggested that endometriosis is caused by exposure to dioxin (an environmental pollutant), although to date there is no proven link.
Statistics gathered from World Endometriosis Research Foundation.