Woman with Endometriosis affects one in 10 Australian woman, but dealing with the pain of endometriosis isn’t the worst part of this hidden illness. It’s that no one believes you are actually sick.
ASK any woman with Endometriosis , and you’ll likely find that ‘unsolicited advice’ ‘is familiar territory.
“Just get pregnant and have a baby.”
“Have you tried eating organic?”
“There’s a medication to cure that.”
“You’re not trying hard enough.
For Rhea Tansley, 30, from Brisbane, it’s a daily part of life — but even she was left shocked by a recent comment from a health store worker.
“I’d gone into a well-known health store with the hopes of finding something that would settle the constant pain I feel,” she shared.
“I’d done my research, and it was a product that was recommended for Endometriosis, but instead of helping me, the ‘health professional’ said I just needed to eat organically and take more vitamins.”
Although frustrated, Rhea asked the employee if she herself suffered from the debilitating disease, to which the woman replied: ‘No, because I only eat organic and exercise regularly.’
“Then she looked me up and down, and said, ‘obviously you’re not trying hard enough to cure your Endometriosis,” Rhea recounts.
“Endo isn’t something you just ‘catch’ from a tin of spaghetti, and then cure with some vitamins. It’s a very real illness, and for most of us, we suffer every day in silence for fear of being judged or dismissed by people exactly like this woman.”
This week, Emma Watkins, who is better known as the Yellow Wiggle, announced she will be taking time out from her national tour to have surgery for the painful and chronic condition.
Watkins, who is currently on tour in Brisbane with the children’s entertainment group, said the diagnosis was “a really big shock”.
Woman with Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 females, Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to that in the lining of the uterus, grows outside of the layer. Embedding itself in areas such as the vagina, cervix, bowel, bladder or pelvis, it often then develops into painful cysts — commonly resulting in extreme abdominal pain, infertility, nausea, and irritable bowel symptoms.
There is no cure for Endometriosis, and even with surgery, the chance of the disease recurring within five years can be as high as 40 per cent (Cleveland Clinic).
For women such as Rhea, the invisible illness is a lifetime sentence that affects both her physical and mental health.
“I’ve lost count of the amount of times people or doctors have said things like, ‘you don’t look sick,’ or ‘every woman gets period pain, just take a Panadol,” she shares.
“But when I am in pain it’s not something Panadol can fix. Even with heavy pain killers, all I can do is curl up in a ball and cover myself in heat packs.”
“Every day is a struggle, but I put on a fake smile and try to do my best.”
It’s a frustration that Northern NSW mother, *Kristin, has also experienced.
“So many people tell you that Endo can be cured by a vitamin or dietary change, and while healthy eating has definitely helped me balance my hormones, it’s never going to be a cure,” she says.