In March 2015 International Endometriosis month, Millen Magese went to South Africa to launch a campaign #ManyFacesOfEndo and to raise awareness for Endometriosis, a condition which affects 1 in 10 women worldwide. Magese has been suffering from the disease through most of her career and has undergone a total of 13 surgeries with no indication when the illness will stop as it is an incurable but manageable disease.
“I have been living with Endometriosis since the age of 13 and was only diagnosed when I was 26, hence my body has endured the disadvantage of having one dysfunctional ovary, blocked fallopian tubes, miscarriages, bowel complications, constipation and infertility. All of these malfunctions have not been affordable to maintain.
The stigma and ignorance surrounding the condition still hold so many women hostage within their own bodies for fear of ridicule. Being one of those women, I decided to make a change and speak out using the platforms I have been given through the fashion industry. I believe my work within the fashion industry to create awareness could use a lot of support in shedding light on an issue so many women, even in the industry, suffer from in silence.”
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system which occurs when the endometrial cells, or uterine lining cells, grow outside of the uterus. Each month, the endometrial cells act as they should, by swelling and thickening, then bleeding. However, since they are outside of the uterus, this leads to endometrial lesions, which worsen over time and can cause severe pain.
Symptoms of endometriosis vary greatly from woman to woman. They include chronic and intermittent pelvic pain which manifest into severe cramps that impact a woman’s ability to participate in daily activities. She may have to stay home from school, work, or other activities and endure long and heavy periods, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhoea and/or constipation, chronic lower back pain, headaches, pain associated with sexual activities and Infertility or pregnancy loss.
There is no clear answer as to what causes endometriosis and there is also no known cure for the condition. Women who suffer from the disease will have to go for multiple expensive laparoscopic excision surgeries in their lifetime in order to remove the endometrial lesions formed over time. Unfortunately, despite surgical advances, many women experience recurrence of the disease. Laparoscopic excision surgery may produce lower rates of recurrence than other surgical procedures.
#ManyFacesOfEndo is a campaign that aims to make people see that anyone could be affected and indeed, when women’s reproductive systems are in turmoil, the whole world is affected. The mechanics of the campaign will require people to post pictures of themselves, as faces of endometriosis, and to explain how they are affected either directly or indirectly by the condition.
In addition, the #YellowFrame4Endo will encourage people to take pictures in a yellow cardboard frame or to write on a plain piece of paper ‘Speak Out #ManyFacesOfEndo’ to support this month of Endometriosis Awareness.