Whoopi Goldberg is the latest celebrity to open up about her experience with endometriosis — and to question why there isn’t more knowledge about the reproductive disorder.
During a discussion with Hillary Clinton, executive producer of the new documentary “Below the Belt,” which explores in-depth the inflammatory condition that affects one in nine women, Goldberg revealed her past diagnosis on Wednesday’s episode of “The View.”
“For me, I had it once. And I was lucky enough because I had a urinary tract infection that I did not take care of,” Goldberg, 67, explained, describing the symptoms that led to a more serious diagnosis. “And I was lucky enough to get to somebody who said, ‘This is called endometriosis,’ and they were able to treat me with antibiotics. But that’s because somebody knew what they were looking at.”
For most women, the process of diagnosing endometriosis, or the growth of uterine tissue outside of the uterus, is more complicated — as is treatment. Often affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis, the condition can cause symptoms ranging from painful periods to infertility. According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is typically diagnosed through a multiphasic process which can include a pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, or even a laparoscopic procedure to pinpoint the growth and location of endometrial tissue.
However, as the documentary indicates, the condition often remains difficult to diagnose.
“When I saw this documentary and heard that it takes them six to 10 years to even get the diagnosis, I don’t understand that!” Goldberg exclaimed, per People magazine. “What are they doing in medical school!?”
As People Health Squad member Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a board-certified OB/GYN at Yale University School of Medicine, explained, the condition “is not always ‘obvious’ to doctors.”
“You may not feel any masses in the pelvis when you examine a woman. An ultrasound may not show it either,” she told the outlet. “Sometimes you need to go into the belly and look with diagnostic laparoscopy. And the amount of pain women have does not correlate exactly with the amount of disease they have.”
Nevertheless, with an estimated 10% of women experiencing endometriosis in their lifetimes, Goldberg expressed frustration with what feels like a disproportionate response by the healthcare establishment.
“It drives me berserk that [women] are still constantly having to beg for health care,” she said on “The View.” “We pay taxes. Women pay taxes. I don’t understand why, when doctors go to school forever, they’re not taught about a woman’s body. And then you have all of these people making these comments — and you know [they] have no idea how this works.”
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