By Gwendolyn Nowaczyk
A text of “Haha, I need to go to the emergency room” and the next thing I know, I find myself racing to the hospital with my friend doubled over in pain from endometriosis.
This was not our initial plan. She had been trying basic pain medication to handle the symptoms but of course, Advil only goes so far. Rushing over to Urgent Care, we were met with a sympathetic gaze but no help. We were simply told by the nurse at the front desk that the only thing they would be able to do would be to give her some ibuprofen.
So, we were in the predicament of going to the emergency room, which would give her medication that would help manage her pain but would cost her, paired with painful tests that would only add to the bill. It didn’t matter that she had insurance, it was going to be expensive and she simply didn’t know if she would have the money to cover the costs.
For a lot of people like my friend, there is no easy solution to endometriosis flare-ups. There has not been enough research done to better understand the cause or find a remedy. There are only options to temporarily manage pain or elect for surgeries that are unlikely to fix the problem, all while racking up a high medical bill.
Even then sometimes pain management isn’t available, with the timespan of diagnosing women with endometriosis ranging from 1 year all the way to 12. Something must be done because women can feel lost or scared for 12 years before they have any clue as to what is happening to their body.
However, this is not an isolated incident affecting only a few women worldwide living with this. Endometriosis impacts an estimated 200 million women according to EndoFound. There is a lack of research, funding or in general, public concern about the condition that effects 1 out of 10 women.
But it doesn’t just stop there.
There are quite a few aspects of women’s health that are left in the dark according to Forbes, including the fact that women experience more side effects from drugs due to the lack of testing of the drugs on women for possible side effects, instead it is based off of how it impacts men.
Not to mention that the pharmaceuticals which are considered to be an essential or are used for a multitude of reasons, such as birth control medication, have numerous side effects including weight gain, strokes, frequent nausea or an extensive list of other possible health complications.
That is not including the number of conditions or issues, both mental and physical that are brushed aside under the perception of women being weak. One example being postpartum depression. A very real condition that can affect women and is dangerous for both mother and child. Despite the severity of this issue, there is a continuing lack of research and an aggressive stigma surrounding it, leaving women vulnerable due to a lack of understanding.
There is a clear lack of attention to critical issues in women’s health. Medical professionals focus on research for diseases which predominately affect males, including heart disease or cancers.
Funding for research about women’s health in 2019 was finally based upon the scientific relevance of the study rather than the number of female subjects that took part. While reports previously focused on how many women took part in the research, there is a shift in current literature which addresses the real world implications of studies, as pointed out by Contemporary OB/GYN.
To take this into perspective, initially the budget for endometriosis research was approximately $6 million even though 7.6 million women in the United States suffer from this condition. That means that every woman currently living in the U.S. had less than a dollar put toward her welfare.
Only now is it increasing from $13 million to $26 million, a decision made by the Senate in the latter months of 2020.
With a female Vice President and more and more women filling the seats in the Senate and other governmental bodies, women’s health may finally get the attention it deserves.
Now those who suffer from endometriosis won’t have to figure out ways to manage the pain, but will find solutions that are long-term. Now my friend, and countless other women, will get the help they need and feel as though they are heard.
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