January 17, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Shedding Light on Endometriosis at SM Pier

Endometriosis Awareness Month in Santa Monica.

By Keldine Hull

The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most heavily-trafficked destinations in Los Angeles, with over 6 million people visiting this iconic seaside landmark annually. In addition to being a perfect place to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Pier is also the perfect place to raise awareness for an important cause.

Located on the Santa Monica Pier, the SpeakENDO Light Installation for Endometriosis Awareness Month is an eye-opening light installation open to the public from March 22 to March 31 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Featuring more than 10,000 lights. The installation features multiple rooms that shed light, literally and figuratively, on endometriosis.

Sponsored by AbbVie, the SpeakENDO campaign is designed to educate women about endometriosis and encourage women to speak up about their symptoms and the impact of those symptoms on everyday life.

“We’ve conducted research with more than a thousand women, both diagnosed with endometriosis and undiagnosed but experiencing symptoms, who shared that for too long, they have been living with their endometriosis pain in a ‘dark place’ where they’ve felt alone and misunderstood,” said Antoinette Haubert, Associate Director for US Public Affairs at AbbVie. “We want these women to know they don’t have to suffer in silence.”

According to Dr. Joy Brotherton, whose areas of expertise include endometriosis, the condition occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus where it doesn’t belong. The most common symptoms associated with endometriosis include painful periods but also pelvic pain in between periods and pain with sex.

“Women with endometriosis may also have abnormal uterine bleeding and difficulties getting pregnant. Symptoms are different for everyone, and not all women have the all of these symptoms. Some women may only have one or two of these symptoms,” Brotherton said.

Dr. Brotherton adds that despite being one of the most common gynecologic disorders in America, there is a lack of awareness and prioritization of endometriosis as an important women’s health issue.

“It’s not a disease you can see by looking at someone. Women with endometriosis can experience a variety of painful symptoms that can be debilitating and may interfere with their day-to-day activities. Women with endometriosis often miss work and school and their relationships can be affected. While every woman has a different diagnosis experience, women with endometriosis can suffer up to 6 to 10 years and visit multiple physicians before receiving a proper diagnosis,” Dr. Brotherton said.

While there is no cure for endometriosis, treatment options are available that include medications, holistic approaches and even surgery. According to Dr. Brotherton treatment plans should be formulated to meet the needs of each woman.

“If left untreated, endometriosis can continue to cause pain and other symptoms that can have significant detrimental impact on women’s day-to-day activities, including their work, relationships and education. Some women may also have difficulties getting pregnant,” Dr. Brotherton said.

Dr. Brotherton recommends that individuals who think they may be experiencing endometriosis symptoms to talk openly with their doctors and be specific about symptoms. Openness is important, according to Dr. Brotherton, as it can lead to a better understanding of the situation, which is helpful in creating a treatment plan.

“Many women get frustrated from having seen multiple doctors and they may have difficulty verbalizing their specific symptoms and concerns. There are many gynecologists who have a specific focus and expertise in endometriosis. I think it is important to seek out doctors who have experience treating endometriosis, specifically if the treatment may include surgery,” Dr. Brotherton said.

SpeakENDO’s art installation hopes to be a source of light on the issue both literally and figuratively. The installation features multiple rooms with interactive light activations comprised of 10,000 lights total. Each room includes facts and statistics about endometriosis, including how many women are affected, how challenging it can be to get an accurate diagnosis and the impact the painful symptoms of endometriosis can have on a woman’s life.

“The installation itself moves from darkness to light with each room brighter than the previous as visitors learn more about endometriosis. March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and the use of light coupled with the educational information on endometriosis is our show of support to raise awareness and help bring endometriosis out of the dark,” Haubert said.

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