Jessica Taylor was diagnosed with endometriosis six years ago after a series of frustrating misdiagnoses.
It’s a common story for women with the debilitating, painful condition in which tissue similar to that of the uterus lining grows in other parts of the body.
Inspired to help other women with endometriosis, Jessica took the reins as president of the Endometriosis Association (Qld), or QENDO. Through this position, she met IMB’s Professor Grant Montgomery, a 30-year patron of QENDO.
Jessica was immediately struck by his work on the genetic factors involved with endometriosis. They forged a strong relationship, and QENDO now raises funds to support Professor Montgomery’s research.
“His work is like no other, and so we’ve tried to make it our mission to give him as much support as we can,” Jessica says.
Both Jessica and Professor Montgomery are determined to help advance knowledge of endometriosis, which can seriously impact the lives of the one in nine women it affects.
“Some girls aren’t able to work. They’re often in crippling amounts of pain,” says Jessica. “I have fainted before because of the pain. It just washes over you like a wave. It just shoots at you and it can be at any time; you don’t even see it coming.”
While researchers such as Professor Montgomery work on untangling the contribution of genetics to endometriosis, women are taking some comfort from an understanding of its inflammatory dimension.
“We know that inflammation causes pain in the pelvic area, and it can become very sore,” Jessica says. “But when we reduce the factors that cause inflammation, we see – and I’ve seen it in myself – significant benefits. The disease can be better managed.”
Jessica describes it as part of the “toolbox” to handle endometriosis.
“There are lots of things that you can do – diet, exercise, and pelvic floor physio. But it’s also important to work with gynaecologists and psychologists. Psychology is a really important tool to help you work through emotions that can come with managing the disease.”
Reducing inflammation and building up the immune system through diet can also play a role in living well with endometriosis.
“Some people affected with endometriosis can see great results when working with allied health professionals such as a dietitian. Certain diets can cause a flare. If you can reduce your triggers that can cause inflammation, such as caffeine or sugar, while increasing the amount of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, it can really help,” says Jessica.
“It is really important to understand that what works for one person may not be effective for another. Working with a dedicated team will help you build your toolbox and understand your condition and triggers. Women can then start to see a reduction of the symptoms caused by inflammation.”
"We know that inflammation causes pain in the pelvic area, and it can become rather sore. But when we reduce the factors that cause inflammation, we see ... significant benefits."
BY THE NUMBERS
One in nine women suffers from endometriosis, a debilitating and painful condition