Lizzie O'Leary -- late of CNN, current freelancer for National Public Radio -- is a friend of mine who has been fighting chronic endometriosis, as well as a spate of bad diagnoses from doctors who could have helped arrest the development of her condition, for many years. Endometriosis is a brutish gynecological condition in which cells from the lining of the uterine wall spread outside the uterus and attach themselves to other internal organs, like the ovaries. The condition can cause intense pain, internal bleeding and fertility problems. O'Leary opens up about her experience in a long and detailed article at Cosmopolitan, titled "What Journalist Lizzie O'Leary Wants Women to Know About Endometriosis."
As O'Leary relates, the worsening of her endometriosis is what brought her brief tenure as an on-air correspondent for CNN to an untimely end -- among other things, the nausea associated with the condition made field reporting a struggle, and treating the pain with Vicodin left her in no condition to go on the air.
"What I want people to know is that it's okay to talk about it," O'Leary writes, so let's do, specifically highlighting this part:
After another surgery, Lizzie is facing endo with continuous hormones and contraception (namely, an IUD), physical therapy for pelvic floor muscles, and acupuncture. She's spirited, heading to look into cutting-edge research at the Boston Center for Endometriosis, and even joking about her abdomen scars ("I'm a real treat in a bikini"). She considers herself lucky that her endometriosis hasn't impacted her fertility, and hopes to have children.
Remember all those election year contentions that providing women with affordable access to contraception was tantamount to giving them license to just have a lot of sexual intercourse? Sandra Fluke, who attempted to argue that contraceptive care provided a range of health benefits to women -- including treatment for conditions as commonplace as ovarian cysts -- was batted about like a pinata by rightward-leaning pundits, who reduced her argument to one in which she was petitioning for government-subsidized harlotry.
But no. While it may seem counterintuitive -- at least to someone who can't outpace the average eel in terms of cognition -- contraception plays a role in a host of women's health issues, including managing the pain of conditions like endometriosis and preserving a woman's hope to one day have children.
I think it's fair to say that the larger message here is that women should never relent in advocating for quality health care for themselves, so go read Lizzie's whole piece.
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