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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Painful Womb Condition

Endometriosis occasionally pops up in the news, which is a good thing, it raises awareness of the disease and promotes the dissemination of knowledge about the field of endometriosis research to a wider audience. However, the sweetness of seeing endometriosis mentioned in a daily rag or news program often has a bitter aftertaste, and this is the tagline the media use to describe endometriosis, yes you know the one “painful womb condition”. There are numerous examples of the “painful womb condition” cropping up in the media, for example in the BBC news pages, brightly lit morning time chuckle fest GMTV and that ever truthful bastion of scientific accuracy The Daily Mail.

It may just be a personal dislike of this particular description but I feel justified in saying that the disease already has a name, why not just call it that? After all you don’t see diabetes reported with the sideline “pancreatic insulin condition” or cancer with a little note saying “deadly cellular proliferation and metastasis condition”. Endometriosis is called endometriosis, that’s it name, we’re not idiots who need a little description in normal people language every time we see a word with more than 3 syllables.

It’s not just the feeling of ‘dumbing-down’ I get every time I see “painful womb condition”, it’s the fact that it’s not a very accurate description. Endometriosis affects the outer surface of the womb, and many other areas. The media outlets even gleefully contradict themselves by stating this. For example, in the GMTV link mentioned above they refer to endometriosis as a “womb condition” then go on to say “Endometrial tissue can also be found in the ovary where it can form cysts and may affect fertility”. This link from the Evening Standard also starts off labelling endometriosis “A painful womb condition” then ends by saying ” The disorder can occur in several places in the body, most commonly the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, the bowel, the intestines, the vagina and the rectum”. It seems like the people writing these articles are having some sort of disagreement with them self about what body part endometriosis affects.

So there are good and bad points about endometriosis being reported in the media. 1) it raises awareness, but 2) It creates confusion by not describing the disease properly. So, in conclusion, if you are a journalist and you must find a suitable tag with which to label endometriosis just call it a “painful condition” or better yet, just call it endometriosis.

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