Con­di­tion is like an ‘alien’ just takes over

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

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 cen­tral­ and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see a video ex­plain­ing en­dometrio­sis.

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