Condition is like an ‘alien’ just takes over
A ‘‘she’ll be right’’ attitude is not the answer to dealing with endometriosis.
Robyn Waterfall was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 17 after suffering for years and thinking her symptoms were normal.
Endometriosis causes women extreme pain during their menstrual cycle and can lead to fertility problems.
‘‘Whenever I had my period I couldn’t go to school, it was horrendous. My last year of high school was an absolute blur because I was in too much pain,’’ Ms Waterfall says.
‘‘We call it an alien because it just takes over.’’
Endometriosis is caused by the lining which normally grows in the womb growing in other places such as the ovaries or bladder.
The Auckland resident wasn’t aware of any support groups when she was diagnosed.
Ms Waterfall is now the first Auckland support coordinator for the charitable trust Insight Endometriosis and is hoping to run regular support groups next year.
‘‘I don’t want people to go through what I went through. As a teenager or even in my 20s it would have helped a lot to have support,’’ she says.
‘‘It’s not only a physical thing. It causes depression and relationship issues.’’
After trying various different treatment options, the 35-year-old is now able to better manage the condition and wants to support others going through the same thing.
Because of the risk of fertility issues, she had to think seriously about whether she wanted to have children at a relatively young age.
‘‘I wanted to go to university, go overseas, have a career, but in the back of my mind I always had to think, ‘hang on what’s important to me’.’’
She married at 21 and had a child when she was 22. Now with a teenage daughter, she feels even more strongly about bringing awareness to the condition to stop young girls suffering in silence.
The Ministry of Health says the condition affects more than three per cent of New Zealand women and girls.
Insight Endometriosis manager Annette Evans says the number could be much higher because many women go undiagnosed.
‘‘It can take decades for some women to be diagnosed because people are putting up with it or it is being overlooked,’’ she says.
‘‘Women are also having children later in life so fertility issues might not be picked up on immediately.’’
The charity is aiming to educate young women about the condition so they can start tackling the issue as early as possible, she says.
Contact Robyn Waterfall on 021 880 741 or search Insight Endometriosis Auckland on Facebook to join the Auckland support group.
Go to centralleader.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see a video explaining endometriosis.