On Thursday, March 13, 2014, women in dozens of cities throughout the world, including Washington, DC, will gather in support of a push for more public education and funding for women’s disorders that cause pain and infertility, including endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids.
Thousands of women are expected to march in support of the cause, but this will still only be a fraction of the 176 million women and girls that reproductive health organizations estimate have endometriosis.
“Young girls and women across the world suffer from endometriosis, yet it is a condition that could be managed quite well,” said Camran Nezhat, MD, chair, AACF Stanford University School of Medicine, director, Center for Special Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery and Stanford clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, who is leading the effort. “It is high time that we try to make people become aware of this.”
Leading women’s health organizations and experts have come out in support of the march that will take place in cities in 39 countries, including Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Kingston, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Osla, Reykjavik, Rome, Stockholm, and Valleta. In Washington, DC, the free events will take place around the Mall and are open to the public.
Since the launch of the Million Women March for Endometriosis, many major women’s health organizations have come out in support by offering co-sponsorship, including The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons.
“Women who suffer from endometriosis wait on average more than six years before receiving an accurate diagnosis—that’s why the American Society of Reproductive Medicine is an advocate for the Million Women March,” Linda Giudice, MD, President of ASRM said in prepared statement, “so women and their families can better manage their health.”
But the real drive behind the event comes from the more than 7,000 women worldwide who have been involved in preparing for the event. The Million Women March is a privately sponsored initiative that has seen an explosion in growth and participation through the power of word of mouth and social media.
Women have banded together on Facebook to create local teams who are planning to attend the march in 2014. These pages have also become a place for talking about this often taboo topic, with women sharing stories of their disease and their struggle to manage it. Unfortunately, it is clear from many of the Facebook posts that there are women who would like to participate but who know that their disease probably is going to prevent them from attending.
MARCHING WITH A GOAL
March advocates hope to raise awareness of these debilitating conditions affecting woman, but they also have more concrete goals.
First among them is the hope that more governmental funds and efforts can be directed towards common women’s diseases, such as endometriosis, fibroids, and chronic pelvic pain. A panel of experts will work with US governmental agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services, to try to achieve this goal.