Apart from that, endometriosis is a bit of a mystery - a variety of other symptoms are linked, but not conclusively, to it, and it's not certain why some women get it. Some experts hold that emtionally intense, driven, stressed women are more prone to developing endometriosis, hence its nickname "the Career Women's Disease." Some hold that it is a kind of punishment for not having enough babies early enough. (As I showed symptoms by the age of eleven - and was nineteen when surgery confirmed the diagnosis - I tend to regard *that* one a bit cynically.) Still others hold that it is developed in the womb, as cells fail to find their correct place in an embryo (or something like that.)
Most treatments are invasive in one way or another, usually involving surgery (ranging from removing visible cells to complete hysterectomy), and hormonal treatments (from the Pill to male hormones.) All treatments risk unpleasant side effects. None are entirely effective, or effective for all women. Even having your reproductive organs hacked out doesn't guarantee a recovery. Alternative treatments, from Evening Primrose Oil to yam creams to aromatherapy to acupuncture, are generally less invasive, but have varying success.
As a disease linked with menstruation and reproduction, endometriosis carries a whole lot of cultural baggage. It's not actually a bad place to begin looking at how women's bodies are regarded in postmodern Western culture. I'm currently working on an essay about how endometriosis and other menstrual dysfunctions, and discourses about them, can pose opportunities and questions for post-structuralist-feminist writing and the evaluation of experience as evidence. It sounds stranger than it is, truly.
Some useful links include:
This list only proviodes a starting point. There are many other sites on endometriosis on the WWW, including an impressive array of deeply moving personal sites put up by sufferers. Whether you suffer or not, in the interests of endometriosis awareness, I urge you to surf around and see. And rememeber, whether it's endo or not, period pain is not a minor problem if it disrupts your life.
- All love, Mistress Ophelia Frump.