Roughly 200 million people worldwide have endometriosis, so it’s likely that you know someone with the condition, even if they don’t feel comfortable sharing their experience. Kathy Huang, MD, director of NYU Langone’s Endometriosis Center, says she’s seen first-hand how the disease wreaks havoc on patients’ mental health and personal relationships, in addition to the physical symptoms they face.
“If someone you care about has endometriosis, there’s many ways you can provide compassionate, effective, and judgement-free support for them,” says Dr. Huang, also an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. If you’re looking to take a more active role in your loved one’s endometriosis journey, simply being present at doctors’ appointments is an effective way to do it, adds Dr. Huang. “Endometriosis is such an isolating condition that when someone you love shows up, it’s incredibly helpful for the patient.”
Ten percent of women of reproductive age have endometriosis, but sharing that statistic with patients won’t make them feel any differently about their own diagnosis, explains Dr. Huang. “Emotionally you may still feel alone, even though rationally you know you’re not.”
Many people find that sharing their diagnosis with a partner, therapist, or a trusted friend can be cathartic. Other patients find comfort in joining online support groups. “The more that people are willing to be vulnerable, the more that this dialogue and society will change,” says Dr. Huang.
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