Raising Awareness is so Important
I was speaking to a friend the other day. He commented that so many causes want to raise awareness. “What does that even accomplish?” he asked. “Everyone seems to want to raise awareness, but no one wants to put money towards the causes they want to make us aware of.”
While he had somewhat of a point - people are quick to like and retweet on Twitter, for example, but are more reluctant to bring about any actual change - raising awareness is really important.
Take endometriosis for example. I recently participated in a campaign to raise money - and awareness - for an endometriosis charity. As part of our fundraising, women who suffered from endometriosis told their often harrowing tales of living with the disease. Reading these testimonials made me feel hopeless. I was diagnosed with endometriosis about twelve years ago, but it doesn’t seem like much has changed in that time. Women are still struggling to receive a proper diagnosis and we are still told to just "suck it up" and "accept that pain" is part of being a menstruating woman.
5 ways to get involved
So doctors will listen to us
Raising awareness for endometriosis doesn’t just mean letting people know that the disease exists. We raise awareness so that doctors at least consider endometriosis as a cause of menstrual pain. In an ideal world, doctors take our pain seriously and investigate any possible causes. Doctors shouldn’t send women, who complain of pain during sex, home with the advice to “just try anal sex” (this actually happened).
So politicians will represent us
Raising awareness also ensures that politicians think about women with endometriosis when legislating health care. Although the recent administration seemed hell-bent on making life as difficult as possible for women, if endometriosis is seen as a common disease, it is to be hoped that birth control and other hormonal treatments can remain available.
So researchers can help us
And then there’s the matter of medical research. I once read that the number of studies for erectile disfunction far outweighs those for endometriosis. Which is horrible when you consider that ED is a minor inconvenience whereas endometriosis is a life-destroying illness. Considering the vast amount of women who are suffering from endometriosis, you would have thought there to be lots of research. But we’re still no further to knowing how the disease starts and develops.
So family and friends can support us
Awareness is also helpful in the workplace or even when talking with friends and family about endometriosis. It would be lovely to be able to tell my boss or coworkers that I have endometriosis and have them reply “Oh, that really sucks!” rather than “Huh? What’s that?”.
I think part of the reluctance to talk openly about endometriosis is the fact that it has something to do with menstruating. Menstruation is still a taboo subject, especially in the workplace or at school. It’s considered dirty or embarrassing. And while endometriosis can have some nasty symptoms, this shouldn’t prevent us from talking about it. Because when we can talk about it openly, we can help other women who are suffering with their periods. We can tell them to ask their doctor about endometriosis and maybe - hopefully - get them a diagnosis sooner.
Do you know someone that has made a difference with endometriosis advocacy?