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teaching your daughters about endometriosis

Tips for Teaching Your Daughters About Endometriosis

Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women and girls. The delay for diagnosis averages 7 years! How early should you start the discussion about this debilitating condition? As a pelvic health physical therapist, I believe this conversation should start not long after your daughter begins menstruating. As moms, we need to be aware about what is “normal” versus “abnormal”. We only know if we ask them questions. It can be a scary time for girls when they first get their periods, and it can be devastating if there is a lot of pain. We need to be a strong support system for our daughters, but also educate them on the norms.

Is it normal to have cramping? Yes. It’s the uterus contracting to shed the lining of the uterus. Mild to moderate cramping can often be helped with Motrin, heating pads, gentle exercise and adequate hydration. Be careful to not dismiss her if she comes to you complaining of severe cramping during her cycle. If her pain is so severe she is vomiting, please do not accuse her of being “too dramatic”. I’ve heard these stories in my office from my patients as they relay their history and how long they complained of severe pain, only to be accused of playing up their pain too much. It only delayed their treatments and added psychological factors as they were made to feel that their pain wasn’t that bad or worse…not real at all.

book teaching your daughters about endometriosis

If you are not a health care provider, you may find it difficult to start this conversation with your daughter. I’m a pelvic health therapist and I even wondered the best way to teach my 10 year-old daughter! First, you need a respected manual that will give you accurate and clear information in simple terms to start discussing what normal developmental changes are in girls. For the past year off and on, we’ve been reading a great book -- “Below Your Belt: How to Be Queen of Your Pelvic Region”.

This is a fantastic book and is the ultimate pelvic health handbook for girls. It covers pelvic anatomy (muscles and organs), bowel and bladder function, hygiene, puberty, menstruation and age-related changes that occur in the body…all necessary information for optimal pelvic health. It has tasteful illustrations and age-appropriate language to teach your girls accurate information about their bodies, the changes in their bodies and strategies to cope with these changes. While it makes no specific mention of endometriosis, it does mention UTI’s as a common occurrence in girlhood. You can read more about Endometriosis here.

Patient-oriented handouts are also available online at the International Pelvic Pain Society, and are helpful in defining and navigating this condition, in language designed to be understood at an 8th grade level. This organization additionally has helpful links to find providers in your area and around the globe.

I do not know if my daughter will be one of the 1 in 10 women and girls that has Endometriosis. But if she is, she will not have to listen to people telling her that her pain is “normal period pain”. She will not only have the support of her family, but also the knowledge to manage her pain. If she escapes the statistic, she will likely have many friends as she goes through middle school, high school and beyond that have Endometriosis. I hope the education I provide her sticks so she can offer support for these women. Let’s raise a smarter generation of girls that understand their bodies and get the care they need without delay.

For More Information

Read: Missy Lavender & Jeni Donatelli Ihm. “Below Your Belt: How to Be Queen of Your Pelvic Region”. Womens Health Foundation. 2015.

Visit: pelvicpain.org

Hopefully you now understand more about teaching your daughters about endometriosis. Be sure to check out more articles about endometriosis here.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by R.D., age 38

"I had a severe tear during childbirth that was not stitched together correctly and therefore healed poorly. Even after having a surgery a year later to remove the scar tissue, I was still having pain, and no one could explain why -- there was no overt 'reason' to explain the pain. I had tried other 'specialists' and even saw another physical therapist who had me do hip / leg stretches -- what a joke! I was about to give up and just 'live with it' until thankfully I kept searching online and found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by R.D., age 38

Testimonial by A.B.

Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
-- A.B.

Testimonial by T.H.

I started seeing Heather in October 2014. For more than two years, I had been suffering from painful urinary tract infection type symptoms after my bartholins gland surgery which included constant burning and urinary frequency sensation that led to more and more painful intercourse. I had made multiple visits to internist, obgyn and urologist's offices, went through a range of treatment with UTI and bladder frequency medication that included antibiotics, vesicare, estrogen cream, but nothing worked.

Read more: Testimonial by T.H.

Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by J.H.

My last appointment with Heather was over 6 years ago but I still think of her every day. I don’t take for granted that I can easily get out of bed, care for my two active and busy young boys, run, play tennis, clean my house, or sit at a desk for several hours at a time. None of these tasks were easy for me before meeting Heather. Eight years ago my car was struck from behind by a tractor trailer that was estimated to have been speeding. I spent 3 years working with different PTs and Drs trying to heal and move on with my life. When I became pregnant and the hormone relaxin that “relaxes” all the joints of the body and the additional weight gain erased all my progress and I was suddenly in a lot of pain again. My OB sent me to Heather for one last try.

Read more: Testimonial by J.H.

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

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