Why am I doing my PhD on endometriosis?
Many of the women I interviewed for my PhD concluded their interview by asking me why I chose to conduct a project on endometriosis. I often found this a difficult question to answer as I felt some may have been asking because they thought I too had endometriosis and that’s why I was doing the project.* I do in fact have endometriosis but this is not the reason why I chose to study it.
I was recently interviewed for an article about endometriosis for the Herald Sun (an Australian newspaper). You can read it here. The journalist was keen to capture why it is that we have a disease experienced by so many women and yet such little awareness about it, and what we can do to address this situation.
The issues I outlined in the interview are the very reasons why I knew research such as mine was essential and why I decided to dedicate my PhD to this topic. Basically we have a disease that:
- Affects a large portion of the world’s population
- Is complicated and not well understood by researchers and doctors
- Is costly to those who live with it and society at large
- Is associated with taboo (things that are socially unacceptable) which comes from how we as a society view women and their bodies
Research dedicated to finding a cure for endometriosis is essential. But it shouldn't be the only focus. Telling women they have to ‘deal with it’ until researchers come up with a cure is not good enough. We also need research to understand what we can do to assist women (and their various professional and personal support people) to manage the condition.
The aim of my PhD research is to establish things that health care professionals and other members of society can do to assist women. Considering how little is known about endometriosis and the links the condition has with the way society views women and their bodies, who better to learn about this from than the women who live with the condition?
* I didn't tell the women I interviewed that I had endometriosis unless they specifically asked me if I had been diagnosed with the condition. I chose to do this to ensure that the interview was directed by the woman and what she felt was important. It is essential that my research captures a diverse range of women’s experiences well beyond my own personal one.
More posts on endometriosis:
Image via Death to the Stock Photo