Sophie Teague, a 31-year-old woman from Bell Post Hill, has shared her almost 20 year battle with endometriosis, urging others not to suffer in silence and to seek help for what might be perceived as "normal" pain.

Ms Teague, who has endured excruciating periods since adolescence, initially dismissed the severity of her pain, assuming it was a typical part of menstruation. It wasn't until conversations with friends and colleagues shed light on the disparity in their experiences that she began to question her own experience.

"I realised it’s not normal to have a day off work during my period because of my pain. Some of those conversations were a bit of a revelation," Ms Teague shared.

Seeking answers, Ms Teague consulted her GP, who referred her to gynaecologist Dr Madeleine Ward at Epworth Geelong. Diagnostic tests, including scans and an internal ultrasound, revealed Ms Teague had stage four endometriosis, characterised by deep, infiltrating lesions.

"The diagnosis was a shock as I have been dealing with it. In my head, women with endometriosis were going to the hospital because they are in so much pain. I thought I was dealing with normal symptoms".

Under the care of Dr Ward and Professor Glenn Guest, Ms Teague underwent two extensive surgeries, one lasting nearly four hours. Reflecting on her journey, she regrets not seeking help sooner.

"It has been a lot. I thought I just had bad pain for almost 20 years. I would’ve loved some more knowledge earlier".

Dr Ward, affiliated with the Julia Argyrou Endometriosis Centre at Epworth, stressed that stories like Ms Teague's are not uncommon. She highlighted the complexities of pelvic pain and the varied experiences of women. Dr Ward emphasised the importance of focusing on patient goals, particularly in terms of improving quality of life.

"Having an approach centered on quality of life is increasingly our focus, considering an individual's ability to function, regardless of whether they have a diagnosis of endometriosis or another chronic pelvic pain condition. Endometriosis can impact a person's entire well-being, reducing productivity, and hindering academic or career pursuits. As healthcare professionals, our role is to provide the necessary multidisciplinary care, so they can thrive," Dr Ward explained.

As Ms Teague and her partner hope to start a family this year, her story serves as an important reminder of the importance of awareness, early intervention, and support for those battling endometriosis.

The clinical community echoes the call for increased attention to women's health issues and a shift towards proactive, goal-oriented care.

The Julia Argyrou Endometriosis Centre at Epworth was established two years ago to deliver the highest-quality care for patients, improve current diagnosis and treatment options and working towards a cure for the condition. Since then, the centre has treated almost 450 patients and provided almost 650 episodes of care in the nurse-led clinic.

Last month, the centre hosted a symposium on “A Multidisciplinary Care Model for Endometriosis” that attracted 130 doctors, healthcare workers and patients from around Australia.


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