By Timothy Bonis
Endometriosis is a silent crisis. One in ten women have it, yet, on average, people with the condition see seven doctors before they get diagnosed. Many experience severe pain, and the disease costs the American economy $80 billion annually in lost productivity, but the standard treatments are outdated and ineffectual.
Below the Belt exposes the failures in practice and policy that have led to the poor state of endometriosis care. Medical students usually don’t learn about endometriosis in medical school, and as a result, most general practitioners can’t recognize it. The majority of gynecologists treat endometriosis with hormones — which have serious side effects and bring little relief — and an ineffective surgery called ablation. Others continue to recommend the 20th-century approach, a hysterectomy. This dismal selection of treatments reflects the state of endometriosis research; historically, the disease has received less than $10 million in research funding per year (compared to $1 billion for diabetes, an equally common condition among women).