Mentionitis: educating others about endometriosis

By Lone Hummelshoj

To raise awareness of endometriosis, one small thing we can all do is to mention the disease – often.

We should set ourselves a goal of mentioning endometriosis at least once a week to someone and, if s/he doesn’t know about the disease, we get the opportunity to explain what endometriosis is, its impact, and its cost to society.

Padma Lakshmi speaking at EFA2012

The concept of “mentionitis” was introduced by Padma Lakshmi at the 3rd Annual Surgical/Scientific Symposium hosted by the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EFA2012) back in March.  She reminded us that when we are excited about something (a new boyfriend, a pending vacation, a new pair of shoes, etc) we tend to mention it a lot. It becomes a bit of an obsession and we get “mentionitis”.

To get others to take an interest in endometriosis perhaps we should mention it much more?

Mentioning endometriosis

Photo of Lone Hummelshoj

Lone Hummelshoj, Editor-in-Chief for Endometriosis.org

Let me give you an example.  A week after EFA2012 I found myself on an early morning flight to Galway, Ireland.  As usual (I don’t do mornings!) I buried my head in a newspaper, as did the chap sitting next to me.  However, half-way through the flight we were both through, and I tentatively suggested that we might swap — it never hurts to get another perspective from a different newspaper.

Once finished with each others’ papers there was still time to kill before touching down on the Irish coast, and this is when the small talk began:

“So, are you going home for the weekend?”, he asked.

“No, this is my first visit to Galway; I am here to speak at a medical conference tomorrow”, I responded.

“Oh, what’s your specialty?”, he enquired.

And this is where I hesitated.  Normally, I just say “I work in women’s health” or “I deal with a specific female disease”, but then I was reminded of Padma’s words and thought: mentionitis, and thus responded:

“I am talking about endometriosis. I manage the two global scientific organisations for physicians who specialise in its treatment and research”.

“Really!”, he exclaimed, “my son is a gynaecologist and he is currently training to become a specialist in endometriosis!”.

This was not the response I had expected at all: it is so rare that I meet someone, who actually knows what endometriosis is, let alone knows someone who works in our field. We pushed the newspapers aside, and chatted for the rest of the flight about the challenges surrounding endometriosis and, what’s more, it turns out that I had met his son at a meeting in London last year.

Awareness spreads like circles of water

This time I didn’t teach someone new about endometriosis, but perhaps I contributed to the overall knowledge by confirming to him that his son was indeed working in a field that needs all the specialists it can get.

But perhaps this chap went on to talk about our encounter to someone else, and thus he has indirectly helped spread the word “endometriosis”…

From now on I’ll make a point of mentioning endometriosis to someone new at least once a week.

If we all do, millions will know about its impact before too long!

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See also

Impact of endometriosis
Cost of endometriosis
Padma Lakshmi’s presentation at EFA2012 (video)

The author

Lone Hummelshoj is the publisher/editor of www.endometriosis.org. She works globally to raise awareness of the impact of endometriosis, and to secure funds for research to improve knowledge of the disease so that targeted treatments can be developed - with prevention as the ultimate goal!

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