After Syl Freedman was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 21, she and her mum Lesley founded EndoActive. Their not-for-profit helps women and girls with endometriosis by empowering them with knowledge and information.
Here, they discuss together their experience with the topic of pregnancy as a ‘cure’ for endometriosis…
Lesley: After Syl recovered from her first laparoscopy she and I returned to the surgeon for her six week checkup. He showed us lurid photos of the operation and explained that she had severe endometriosis which he had excised. He seemed confident that she would eventually recover her health and energy.
He also suggested, to our amazement, that if she were to have a baby she would probably suffer no further from endo. Syl was 21, halfway through her undergraduate degree, and she was waitressing and interning. The last thing on her horizon was motherhood.
Syl: These young women, writing on EndoActive’s Facebook page, had all sought advice from their doctors for symptoms, including severe period pain, of what would later turn out to be Endometriosis:
“My Dr told me that having a baby would help my pain. I’m only 12.”
“I was advised to go to the pub and have a one night stand and try to get pregnant.”
“A GP said that “if your pain is really that bad why don’t you just go and have a couple of babies, that would definitely sort it out.”
Health professionals and well-meaning friends and family often prescribe pregnancy as a ‘cure’ or treatment for women with endo. This advice is based on a myth that’s been around for centuries, dating back to Ancient Greece.
However, 2000 years later, Harvard Medical School published a paper (1965) that concluded: “The impression that pregnancy exerts a consistent curative effect upon endometriosis ….. appears to be ill-founded.”
In 2015 world-renowned endo surgeon Dr. Paolo Vercellini wrote: “The old clinical tenet that pregnancy is a cure for endometriosis may be revealed as fallacious.”
Is anyone listening? No, apparently not. In August 2016 The Huffington Post published an article by a UK gynaecologist asserting that “pregnancy itself is an effective ‘treatment’ for Endometriosis”.