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  • Writer's pictureHumans of International Studies

MATILDE (3rd year)

“Endometriosis and vulvodynia are not rare illnesses, but social problems that are deliberately being ignored. In general, women’s health and sexuality more broadly are often considered a taboo in society, leading to a lot of unawareness, both among individuals and within the medical field. Endometriosis causes continuous strong period cramps and possible infertility, whilst vulvodynia leads to chronic vulvar pain, which often involves intense burning sensations and a hyper tone of the pelvic floor. Although, the specific symptoms people experience vary per person. But what is especially problematic is that many doctors don’t even know about the existence of such illnesses because they are so under-researched, which often leads to late diagnoses. On average, it can take 5 to 10 years before getting an actual diagnosis, which also leads to a delay in effective treatment. Yet, these illnesses can greatly impact peoples’ lives. The treatment of these illnesses often involves a complete change of one's way of living, from your diet, to only wearing loose-fitting clothes, to not being able to do sports. Moreover, you need to consistently do specific daily physical exercises, which include regularly going to a physiotherapist, as well as taking medication. But because the medical system does not properly recognize these illnesses, women must most commonly pay for all these medications, checks and physiotherapy appointments themselves, which can amount to 500€ a month. Lastly, these illnesses can also lead to psychological repercussions, like effects on your interpersonal relationships and even clinical levels of anxiety and depression. We live in a system that does not acknowledge these conditions and experiences, which causes affected people to feel marginalized. That is why I want to discuss it, to bring awareness to this issue. My advice would be: become aware of your body, how it functions and how it reacts to different stimuli and pressures. If you experience too much pain, know that this isn’t normal. It is important to seek help, get checked by a specialized gynecologist as early as possible and receive treatment.” (Matilde, 3rd year, Italy)

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