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:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::

March 1st sees the start of endometriosis awareness month. A whole month where patients, charities and organisations alike, share information on the disease in order to raise much needed awareness.

But, why does endometriosis need awareness? Doesn’t every illness have plenty of awareness surrounding it already? Well, no. Awareness is desperately needed for endometriosis. So few people have heard of the disease, even though an estimated 176 million women worldwide, and 1 in 10 of us suffer with endometriosis. There is also a huge misconception surrounding endometriosis. Isn’t it just a “bad period"? Can’t you just take paracetamol for the pain? Doesn’t pregnancy or hysterectomy cure endometriosis? There are so many false facts circulating about endometriosis that even those suffering with the disease can get confused about it!

What can we all do to raise awareness and get the correct facts circulating?

1. Get talking
The simplest way to raise awareness is to talk to others about endometriosis, whether that be family, friends or co-workers. Drop it in to conversation wherever you can. You’ll be surprised to find out how many people actually want to know more!

2. Take to social media
Get online and share facts about endometriosis or your own experiences and feelings towards the disease. People might not be interested, but the important thing is that they will have seen the word “endometriosis”. This may prompt them to search for information or they might know someone who also suffers with it. My hope is that by seeing the word endometriosis, they will retain it somehow and know that it exists.

You don’t need to overshare, post every day or write a blog (although I would always encourage other women with endometriosis to do this because, as well as raising awareness, it is a great source of therapy!). Sharing something every now and then is all that’s needed and you will have done your bit then!

3. Join an event
There are lots of different events that take place all year round, but particularly throughout endometriosis awareness month. In the UK, endometriosis awareness week runs from Saturday 3rd-Sunday 11th March. There is a worldwide endometriosis march on Saturday 24th March that sees individual groups of people walking and sharing information along the way. Much like a peaceful protest and I would imagine pretty good fun! These marches are taking place in major cities across the world so have a look to see if there is one near to you. There are even virtual endometriosis marches for those who do not have one near to them or for those too ill to attend. Please check with your countries individual endometriosis charities to see if there are any events being run near you.

4. Sign and share petitions
There are hundreds of petitions in circulation across the world hoping to get endometriosis in to education or to raise awareness in the medical field to gain quicker diagnosis’ for women. Please check with your countries government websites or petition websites like Change or 38 Degrees, amongst many others. 

5. Educate
Firstly, and as I would suggest to anyone newly diagnosed, get educated! Read books, online articles and websites. Improve your own knowledge of endometriosis. In doing this, we can share correct information and help others to understand not only endometriosis, but also that painful periods are not normal. This may prompt those sharing similar experiences to seek medical advice.

6. Share your story
You can share your endometriosis story by writing a blog, contacting media outlets or through others blogs or social media accounts (Instagram is particularly good for this). This doesn't only help to raise awareness, but can prompt women (both diagnosed and not-diagnosed) to seek medical advice if they relate to your experiences. I feel sharing different women's stories and experiences is one of the key areas in raising awareness because endometriosis is different for everyone and can affect women's lives in a multitude of ways. 

There are so many ways of raising awareness - what will you be doing this month? Will it be different to any other month or do you believe awareness needs to be raised all year long?

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.