Endometriosis Awareness Month 2010

Endometriosis Awareness RibbonIn honor of the 70 million girls and young women around the world who suffer from endometriosis, March has been selected as a time to raise awareness about this baffling disease. Although there are a handful of accepted theories, researchers still don’t know what causes it. Treatment is aimed at controlling pain and future fertility, but there is no known cure. Despite scientific efforts to discover a way to diagnose endometriosis via a blood test, there has been no medical breakthrough to date; thus a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy is the only certain way to diagnose it.

Originally considered to be an illness of “working women”, medical professionals now recognize that endometriosis affects young women too! Getting a diagnosis (whether you are a teen or a grown woman) can take several years. In fact, the process can involve meeting with and average of 5 or more doctors and/or specialists before finding a gynecologist who is familiar with the disease and it’s symptoms and treatments. This is beyond frustrating for someone who is experiencing significant pain that causes them to miss school, work, and social events.

Endometriosis can cause different symptoms in teens, including severe period cramps, intermittent chronic pelvic pain throughout the cycle, painful urination, diarrhea or constipation (or both), pelvic pain with exercise, pain after a pelvic exam, and pain with sexual intercourse. There can be other causes of these symptoms though, and that’s why it’s important to be evaluated by a pediatric adolescent gynecologist if you are a teen or young adult and have any of these symptoms.

Here at the Center for Young Women’s Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, we specialize in caring for young women with chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis. We recognize that it is a frustrating disease for teens and their parents, and that’s why we’ve created many resources, an online chat, and a yearly conference for teens and their families.

On Saturday, March 20th, we will host our 4th annual Endo Conference for Teens, Families and Friends. It is an opportunity for young women ages 12-22 who have been diagnosed with endometriosis and their families to come together for education and support. Check out our website for tons of information on endometriosis including; what to expect if you are going to have a laparoscopy, hormonal treatment options, endometriosis and college planning, and our newest guide on endo, nutrition, and exercise, and much more.