POLITICS

Labor MP Delivers Stirring Speech About Living With Endometriosis

Disease is 'a nightmare of misinformation, myths, taboos', Gai Brodtmann says.

29/03/2017 3:49 PM AEDT | Updated 29/03/2017 5:10 PM AEDT

CANBERRA -- Labor MP Gai Brodtmann has made an emotional plea on the floor of parliament for Australia to have a conversation about the debilitating disease endometriosis, which affects up to one in 10 women.

Brodtmann, the Member for Canberra, rose in the House of Representatives on Tuesday to speak up about the disease. Endometriosis is condition where tissue which normally grows inside the womb, called endometrium, instead grows outside it. The disease can lead to extreme pain, infertility and other complications related to the bowel, periods, headaches and a variety of others around the body.

"That's one in 10 teenage girls missing classes because of excruciating pain. That's one in 10 young women forced to take time off work for treatment and operations, that's one in 10 women living in fear of infertility," she said.

"Unfortunately these girls and young women, these women largely suffer this insidious disease in stoic silence... symptoms are variable which is why there's usually a seven to 10 year delay in diagnosis."

A report from the UK just this week stated 40 percent of women had to go to doctors 10 times before being properly diagnosed.

Brodtmann described it as "a nightmare of misinformation, myths, taboos, lack of diagnosis and problematic hit-and-miss treatments", and called on her parliamentary colleagues to step up and spark conversations about endometriosis.

A video of her speech quickly clocked tens of thousands of views after she posted it to her Facebook page, with almost 100 comments praising her for talking about the issue.

"Let's keep this conversation going! So pleased to see you raised today in Parliament," wrote one woman.

"Thank you Gai. It is time to take a stand and to teach others, make them understand just how life affecting this disease is," said another.

Following the response, Brodtmann again took to the floor of parliament on Wednesday to talk about the disease. She called the response to Tuesday's address "overwhelming".

"Women spoke of the need to break down the taboo of this issue, to actually have the conversation, to raise awareness about this insidious disease. From the response I got yesterday, it seems like no-one is talking about this," Brodtmann said.

She particularly singled out one comment, which said:

Endometriosis is evil. No more should it be a silent unknown women's condition. It's a disease that slowly destroys your body, your social life, relationships, dreams of becoming a mother, careers, work, financial stability, self-esteem, sex life, ability to function normally, ability to parent fully and your mental state

"We actually have to end the silence on endometriosis. One in 10 women in our communities are suffering from this every day," Brodtmann said.

"I encourage my colleagues here in the chamber to get out there and raise awareness about this insidiuous disease, raise awareness about the symptoms, have the conversations with your community and please break the silence."

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