March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. All over the world, meetings and events are held to raise awareness for this serious disease which affects one in ten women during their reproductive years. That’s around 176 million women in the world. Some experts even claim it’s one in every eight women. So even if you don’t suffer from it personally, chances are high that you know someone who does. The worldwide endometriosis awareness movement has many famous ambassadors who take a stand against this condition. Here, we introduce six of them.
Padma Lakshmi (1970) is, apart from actress, model, interior and jewel designer, writer and television host (Top Chef), also co-founder and figurehead of the Endometriosis Foundation of America. That’s no coincidence. Born in India and raised in America, the multi-talented Lakshmi knows firsthand how serious this disease can be. After suffering from heavy pains for over twenty years – something some medical experts claimed was ‘all in her head’ -, she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis aged 36. Originally, she thought suffering was just a part of menstruation. ‘I expected the pain, saw my mother go through it in fact, month in and month out.’
Daisy Ridley (1992) is an English actress. She’s best known for her lead role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Ridley first opened up about her struggle with endometriosis and PCOS on her Instagram page, in 2016. ‘At 15 I was diagnosed with endometriosis. One laparoscopy, many consultations and eight years down the line, the pain was back (more mild this time) and my skin was the worst.’ Extreme menstrual pain is a common symptom of endometriosis; acne one of PCOS. Picture: Twitter
Whoopi Goldberg (born as Caryn Elaine Johnson, 1955) is an American stand up-comedian, actress, political activist, author and media personality. And she’s also an entrepreneur: together with Maya Elisabeth, she founded Whoopi & Maya: medical cannabis products for relief from menstrual discomfort. Goldberg has experienced herself how painful and uncomfortable menstruation can be. She was diagnosed with endometriosis since the 1970s and said that ‘after a lifetime of difficult periods, cannabis was literally the only thing that gave me relief’. Despite the fact that endometriosis is one of the main causes of female infertility, in 1973 her daughter was born: Alexandrea ‘Alex’ Martin. Picture: Timothy White/Twitter
Emma Bunton (1976). Yes, also Baby Spice of the Spice Girls – the name Baby is allegedly tattooed on her buttock – was diagnosed with endometriosis, at the age of 25. The remark of her doctor, that 50% of women with endometriosis go on to have children, didn’t put her at ease at all (‘What? Only 50 per cent? It scared the life out of me.’) Bunton was part of the lucky 50%. She got two baby spices: Beau, in 2007 and Tate, in 2011. Picture: Twitter
Dolly Parton (1946) is a world famous American singer-songwriter, actress and author. One of her iconic songs is about the struggle with PMS. And that isn’t her only menstruation-related problem. In 1982 – when touring through the USA and Canada – Parton ended up in hospital with severe pains. There, part of her uterus was removed due to endometriosis. She was 36 at the time, and unable to have children after this operation. In 2008, she shared her story about this partial hysterectomy and the depression that followed: ‘It was an awful time for me. Every day I thought, ‘I wish I had the nerve to kill myself’.’ With these words in mind, her song PMS Blues suddenly doesn’t seem so funny anymore. Picture: Twitter
Susan Sarandon (1946) is an American actress who has starred in a long, long list of movies. She’s also someone with a message. Particularly after she got sent home in 1983 with ‘a half-assed diagnosis’, painkillers and the contraceptive pill. ‘Without further explanation about the disease.’ She was told she’d need an operation to have children (she ended up getting three kids). Invited by the Endometriosis Foundation of America, in 2011 she gave a feisty presentation. Bottom line: ‘It is NOT OK to miss a part of your life because of pain and excessive bleeding. It is NOT OK to be bed-ridden for two-to-three days a month. It is NOT OK to experience pain during sex. It is NOT a woman’s lot to suffer, even if we’ve been raised that way. Picture: Twitter
World Endometriosis Day
On Saturday, March 24 it’s World Endometriosis Day. On this day, all over the world #EndoMarch events and awareness campaigns will be held.