For a disease that affects an estimated one in 10 women, endometriosis still regularly flies under the radar not only in terms of diagnoses, but also in mainstream conversation. This trailer for a documentary on endometriosis awareness is important for this very reason — we need to bring visibility to this disease, not just so women can be informed and educated, but also so we can put more effort toward encouraging people to get examined and hopefully diagnosed so endometriosis doesn't go unchecked, ravaging their lives and health.
The documentary, titled Endo What?, will have limited availability in terms of screening (you can stream it online, and it will be playing in a few theaters around the world) to shed light on the mystery of endometriosis. According to the trailer, it takes women roughly seven to 10 physician visits just to get the correct diagnosis in the first place, largely because menstrual pain is so often assumed to just be "cramps."
Aside from being incredibly difficult to identify and diagnose, there is also the issue of how little it's being researched. The documentary is a call for women to be more proactive about campaigning for more medical research, and asks that doctors likewise be aware when cramps can't just be treated with some Midol and a hot bath now and again.
"I remember one doctor asked me if my mental health was OK because it's like an invisible pain," says one woman in the trailer. A medical expert then weighs in: "I think that we have a tendency as women really to subvert our pain and put everybody else ahead of us... Fight like it's for someone else's battle, because if you're not well, you can't be good to anybody around you."
Actress Allison Williams chimed in on the conversation, posting a "letter" to endometriosis on her Instagram account, in which she addresses the disease directly, saying "Screw you" for what you've done to Lena, as well as how they are planning "revenge" beyond anyone's comprehension. She noted in the caption that she wrote this for Lena and some people asked her to post it because they thought it might ease the pain for someone else:
As a lot of people already know, endometriosis has sidelined Dunham more than once in her life (and her career). Just a few weeks ago she announced that she'd be taking a break to recover:
It was only a few days ago that she spoke out again at Padma Lakshmi’s Blossom Ball in New York City, saying that medical care and research was "misogynistic."
"They have sunk far more money into diseases that affect far fewer people, and I think we all know that’s because of stigma that surrounds reproductive health in this country," she continued. "Let’s give to a cause that may not seem sexy or essential to some, but hey, what is sexier or more essential than vibrant healthy women?”
There's no doubt that we have a lot of work to do (and awareness to raise, and research to conduct) in terms of how we can better help people — women in particular — deal with illnesses such as these. There's nothing more essential than "vibrant, healthy women," which is precisely why issues of this nature are so important to discuss.