How a simple test could change the lives of thousands of women

There is a new test currently being developed which could provide invaluable information to women all over the world. A simple blood test could be used to identify endometriosis and provide results women desperately need without the invasive surgery. Endometriosis is the condition where the tissue begins to form on the outside of your ovaries causing extreme levels of pain and in some cases, infertility. Currently, the only way to formally diagnose the condition is surgery, a laparoscopy which can be used to identify and remove some parts of the endometriosis providing the case is only mild to moderate. 

Heather Bowerman has told Triple J Hack that research in Dot Laboratories is investigating a new type of test that would produce results in as little as one day. This blood test would save many women from the complications of surgery and treatment plans can be put in place sooner. 

For me, this test is personal. It was the summer of 2012 and my life drastically changed when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. In the months prior I had started to develop excruciating period pain and fatigue to the point where my boyfriend found me passed out on the bathroom floor. He whisked me away to the emergency room in a panic where I was sent away with a mere ibuprofen that did nothing to soothe the feeling of a demon twisting my ovaries. 

After seeing my GP I was immediately told to do an array of tests that ranged from blood tests to ultrasounds and finally a visit to the gynaecologist who told me the next step to identify the endometriosis was surgery. Between the infertility comments and the multitudes of pamphlets that I received about my "condition", I felt like I had been hit by a tidal wave of information that left me feeling broken. I was told I could go on a waiting list for the surgery however as it wasn't deemed urgent, it could take time. 

Cracks in my relationship began to surface as the awkward question of "what if...?" hovered over everyday thoughts and conversations. Eventually, when the relationship ended, dating was difficult as when I had to cancel dinners, the stigma of "no period talk" to potential new partners meant that I would make flimsy excuses to avoid explaining the truth.

Because with the truth came the potential infertility issue. With the truth came the possibility that life with would be completely different to a normal relationship.

Then I fell pregnant.

One of the first things the doctor said to me that this could be a miracle baby. That this might be my only chance. Because I hadn't had the surgery, I had to wonder- what if I didn't have endometriosis? What if I had spent the last four years learning to accept that having children would be difficult for nothing? What if this pain is normal? 

I am not alone. A beautiful young woman I know is on the verge of having a hysterectomy as her pain is chronic- the last resort after trying multitudes of medical treatments. Another woman I know lost a long term boyfriend as he realised he wanted to be able to have his own biological children; so he broke her heart and abandoned her as she booked herself in for the hysterectomy she wanted to have in hopes for normality in her everyday life.

This is why this test is important. No woman should have to go through surgery just to have a complete diagnosis. One in ten women should know their options and be able to make confident decisions when exploring treatments. We shouldn't normalise excruciating pain and we need to have more awareness within our community so that employees, school teachers and family can provide empathy through knowledge and understanding.

Finally, with a correct diagnosis, women should be offered support. After my various medical visits, I was never offered any guidance and instead I was sent away to deal with the confusing information on my own. Hopefully, with this test women will feel more informed and be offered options after receiving a clear diagnosis. Our women of the future deserve this test and I hope it can provide answers that so many women in our community need.