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The invisibility of endometriosis

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ADAEC denounces that the Beijing+15 Forum leaves women’s health out

Society, Health and Gender, Madrid, Tuesday 9 February 2010, by Elena Duque

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Madrid, 9 Feb (10). AmecoPress. They talked about women’s empowerment, economic and business objectives, and gender violence. But health took up very little space at the Beijing+15 Forum in Cadiz last week. MªAntonia Pacheco was there as a representative of ADAEC and tried to raise at different tables the need to address an issue that affects, according to the association, 14 million women in the European Union: the disease of endometriosis, whose effects and lack of knowledge lead to discrimination against those who suffer from it.

The ADAEC (Association of Women Affected by Endometriosis of Cadiz) already knew what was going to happen at the Forum, and were prepared. Pacheco had the questions in his head. And at the first opportunity, he asked them. “Can you tell me what measures you have planned in relation to endometriosis? As she says, nobody knew how to answer. Because this disease is the great unknown, precisely because it is not talked about.

Endometriosis can be suffered by any woman of childbearing age, and can even extend beyond the menopause. The cause is not clear. There is excessive growth of endometrial tissue, with lumps appearing around the uterus, in the abdomen and in the lumbar region. These tissues cause pain and are also related to different problems such as heavy bleeding during menstruation or intestinal disorders. It is also associated with infertility, depending on the severity. There is no cure, although it is treated hormonally to alleviate its effects, and it is even possible to intervene surgically to remove the lumps. The greatest difficulty in its treatment is that both the effects and the palliative ones depend on each case.

Pacheco went to the forum loaded with material to introduce the disease to the people attending and thus create that space which they seemed to have forgotten about. In addition, he continued to participate in the question sessions. “We only talk about gender violence and there are more types of violence that can be exercised against a woman. (…) Violence is that women and girls in Europe are castrated by removing their reproductive organs at every intervention at a very early age because there is no awareness or research,” she said.

He went on to describe how patients with prostate cancer treatments whose side effects are not yet known for sure are treated; that infertility among women suffering from the disease is around 45 percent; that those affected cannot enjoy their full sexuality because they suffer from pain. “We have to be able to get out of bed, not suffer layoffs after layoffs for an ignored disease, live without pain,” he says in his blog.

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