Media release: Endometriosis Awareness Month 2023
It took 15 years for Sargam Polra to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis, after suffering with debilitating pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, migraines, muscle aches and extreme fatigue from the age of 12.
“I visited multiple gynaecologists and had countless blood tests. The doctors kept telling me to be strong and that it was all in my mind because nothing showed up on my scans. I had lost all hope and for the longest time, I thought I was the only one going through this,” Sargam says.
Sargam is not alone in her experience. On average, sufferers of endometriosis in Aotearoa will visit their doctor five times across more than eight years before they are diagnosed. Endometriosis New Zealand is working to change this by better educating the community about the symptoms of endo as part of Endometriosis Awareness Month this March.
“Our aim is for girls, wāhine and people assigned female at birth to stop and think: ‘Could it be Endo?’, then start a conversation with their health professional,” Endometriosis New Zealand Chief Executive Tanya Cooke says.
“Endometriosis New Zealand has educated and supported thousands of people living with the condition for more than 30 years. We know that earlier diagnosis can be life-changing for people, because once you have a diagnosis, you can start exploring different treatment options and manage the condition. Our team provides information, education and support that empowers people with living with endometriosis,” Cooke says.
Sargam’s diagnosis was a turning point in her life. Her symptoms had isolated her at home, kept her from social events and making friendships, and squashed her life-long dream of becoming a professional Indian classical dancer and choreographer.
“I often think about how different life would be if the doctors had believed me and diagnosed me earlier. My peers were getting married, travelling the world, and building a career for themselves, but I was stuck. At 31, I am still starting my life.”
She says it was a revelation when she found a community of other people with endo through Endometriosis New Zealand.
“Surprisingly, I felt a sense of happiness upon receiving my diagnosis. It was a significant mental relief…When I saw others sharing their stories of similar symptoms, it gave me the courage to speak out about my condition. I now confidently say that I am an endo warrior and have learned how to manage my endometriosis,” she says.
1 in 10 women, girls and those assigned female at birth have endometriosis in Aotearoa – a total of more than 120,000 people. The signs and symptoms of endometriosis may include: period pain that affects daily life; pain during and/or after sex; pelvic, lower back and leg pain; bladder and/or bowel troubles; abnormal menstrual bleeding; sub-infertility or infertility; tiredness and low energy; immune system issues; PMS, low mood and depression.
Endometriosis New Zealand is advocating for better education and earlier diagnosis of endo this March. Find out more about our educational events and endo warriors who are raising awareness here: www.nzendo.org.nz
For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
Tanya Cooke (she/her), Chief Executive
• Mobile: 027 255 1306
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sargam is happy to share her story with media, and photos are available on request.