Endometriosis, a painful and often overlooked disease, gets attention in a new film

The documentary “Below the Belt: The Last Health Taboo” explores endometriosis, a painful and often misunderstood condition that affects an estimated 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.

In the spotlight: The film highlights the experiences of four people searching for effective treatment for endometriosis, a chronic inflammatory disease causing severe menstrual pain, heavy bleeding, and possibly infertility.
* The disease involves tissue similar to that found in the uterine lining growing outside the uterus, sometimes on ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels or other organs.
* The documentary is available to stream for free on PBS.org until July 21, 2023.

Under the microscope: The documentary underscores key aspects of the disease.
* Endometriosis can first present with gastrointestinal symptoms.
* Typically prescribed medications like hormonal contraceptives do little to address the disease itself and only alleviate symptoms.
* Surgical methods – ablation and excision – are explored, with the latter considered the gold standard method but not often covered by insurance.
* A consensus on endometriosis’ origins still eludes medical practitioners.

The bigger picture: There’s a growing sense of urgency around adequate research and funding for endometriosis.
* Emphasizing patient autonomy, the documentary encourages patients to take control of their health care journey by becoming informed and asking targeted questions of their doctors.
* A bipartisan effort by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Mitt Romney is aiming to secure more funding for endometriosis, with a hosted screening of the documentary before the Senate in March.

View original article on NPR

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