National Survey Indicates That Too Many Women Are Living in Pain


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Mar 4, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- While almost all women have experienced pain with their menstrual cycle, only half have ever discussed it with their doctors, according to a recent national online survey conducted by the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC). The reason: most women don't believe or don't know that doctors can do something about the pain.

Other survey findings indicate that more than three out of four women (76 percent) who experience menstrual pain say that it has affected their ability to participate in normal activities in work or personal life. Approximately 45 percent have missed out on social activities with friends; 39 percent have missed days of work or school.

The survey, released in March in conjunction with Endometriosis Awareness Month, assessed the current experiences and attitudes of the impact period pain has on the lives of more than 1,000 women over the age of 18. Period pain can be a sign of a more serious condition -- such as endometriosis -- one of the most common gynecological conditions that is estimated to affect six million women in the United States. Infertility is one of the most serious symptoms that women may experience with this condition.

"Women assume that they have to suffer from monthly pain -- that it's part of being a woman. What most women don't realize is that monthly pain may be an indication of a more serious, underlying problem, such as endometriosis," explained Amy Niles, executive director, National Women's Health Resource Center. "When women try to talk about their pain to family, friends or doctors, their pain is often considered trivial. More must be done to encourage patients to talk with their doctors to determine if their monthly pain represents a more serious condition, like endometriosis, and to receive guidance on how to manage it."

Patient Tool Available In Response To Findings

Based on these findings, the NWHRC has developed a patient education tool, "Making the Cramp Connection," to help educate women about cramps, chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis, and to encourage women to monitor and track their period pain and symptoms. The tool also provides tips on ways to make it easier to talk about period pain with health care professionals. "Making the Cramp Connection" is available by calling 1-866-FOR-ENDO.

"Some women may suffer up to nine years before their symptoms are diagnosed as endometriosis," said Craig A. Winkel, M.D., M.B.A., professor and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. "Therefore, women with monthly pain can benefit significantly by partnering with physicians to learn more about their symptoms."

Celebrity Involvement Supports Awareness Initiative

In an effort to increase awareness of endometriosis, the NWHRC has also launched national television and radio public service announcements featuring actress and model, Karen Duffy, who suffers from endometriosis. The public service announcements, which will begin airing in March, strongly encourage women to re-examine period pain and discuss symptoms with health care professionals.

"I did what too many women do --- wrote off the pain as just part of being a women -- until I took charge and talked to my doctor," said Duffy. "It turned out my period wasn't the problem -- endometriosis was."

The National Women's Health Resource Center is dedicated to helping women make informed decisions about their health. The NWHRC is a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive health information and resources for women. For more information on cramps, chronic pelvic pain or endometriosis call 1-866-FOR-ENDO or visit www.healthywomen.org .