Art of Woman

Endometriosis Study

Do You Have Endometriosis?

A researcher I know, Maryam Moradi is doing a PhD studying how endometriosis affects women. She is inviting women with endometriosis to complete this newly developed questionnaire to measure the long term impact of this condition. The questions in the Endometriosis Impact Questionnaire (EIQ) have been developed based on 10 focus group discussions with 35 women with endometriosis. This study is being conducted by researchers through the Australian National University (ANU) and Canberra Endometriosis Centre.

Please invite anyone you know who has endometriosis to participate. You may place the attached Information sheet on your websites, Facebook and anywhere else you think is appropriate. Data collection for the project will close on 28 March 2014.

I encourage women with endometriosis to support this study, https://apollo.anu.edu.au/default.asp?pid=7700. Contact Maryam Moradi 0403 679 650 or email her at: maryam.moradi.fu@gmail.com

See information page and flyer,
Endometriosis Study Moradi ANU

Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis Information Night

Melissa Parker speaking about endometriosis. She used my photographs to engage the audience.
Melissa Parker speaking about endometriosis

On 30May I was invited to display some of my exhibition quality photographs at an endometriosis information evening. The evening was hosted by the Canberra Endometriosis Centre which is dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and management of endometriosis. Many women, from teens to mature women, suffer terribly from endometriosis. Symptoms include severe pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, fertility problems and general ill health. These symptoms disrupt girls’ schooling and cause affected women to take time off work. As a result of these symptoms, endometriosis can put immense stress on relationships; both personal and work relationships. It is a poorly understood disorder and many women suffer for years before diagnosis and effective treatment is implemented.

Guest speaker was Dr Susan Evans from Adelaide. She is a Gynaecologist and Advanced Laporoscope Surgeon who specialises in managing endometriosis and pelvic pain. She has authored several books including Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain (which was available to buy), the e-book Pelvic Pain and The Pelvic Pain Report.

I have a deep compassion for this often hidden suffering and I use my art to promote awareness and to fundraise. Modern medical techniques have progressed and many endometriosis sufferers can be treated. There is no reason for women to suffer for years without treatment.

Endometriosis night was well attended with standing room only in the auditorium. Many aspects of endometriosis were discussed. Melissa Parker (RN RM MNurs, endometriosis coordinator and researcher) from Canberra Endometriosis Centre, used some of my photos, with my permission, in her presentation. They were a contrast to the usual laparoscopy images and clinical diagrams.

It is exciting to see that my photos communicate so effectively. My display in the lobby slowed attendees down. Before and after the formal presentations, the attendees enjoyed looking at my photos and many spoke to me about aspects of women’s intimate health. Many people asked about the ideas I express in my photography. These discussions opened up discussion about support for women sufferers and gave the support group an opportunity to engage with attendees.

Topics and Speakers on the night:
  • Management of Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis: Dr Susan Evans
  • Endometriosis and Fertility: Dr Felicity Brims
  • Living with Endometriosis and Activities of the Canberra Endometriosis Centre: Melissa Parker

Margaret Kalms with some of her photographs from her solo exhibition, “Period Piece”
Margaret Kalms with some of her photographs from her solo exhibition

Buying Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain by Dr Susan Evans
Woman buying the book Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain

Labiaplasty

Last night I watched “Hungry Beast” on ABC TV. This program, presented by plucky young people, picks out interesting and controversial snippets of news and themes. To quote from their website, “ It covers everything from the silly, to the serious, to somewhere in between; always from a different perspective.” Last night was an article about labiaplasty. You may view this online on the following web address. I am writing this link out in longhand, separately because the clip contains images of genitals and talks about genital surgery. These images are rated as M15+ and if such material offends you, do not click on the link;
http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/stories/labiaplasty

There were two aspects to the report;
  1. the censorship laws that allowed full frontal nudity only if labia are not visible
  2. the increase in the number of real women having plastic surgery to cut off their perfectly normal, healthy labia.

The censorship laws are accommodated by some magazine editors by manipulating photographs of women and trimming their labia digitally within Photoshop. The women models remained healthy and intact, but of course the image is a construction, not a true representation.

Unfortunately the publishing of these altered images gives the public the impression that labia are not normally visible. Normal women are seeing their genitalia as ugly and in need of modification. The plastic surgeon called it “surgical improvement”! Of course he would, it helps his business to call it improvement. I am horrified by this. Surely labiaplasty is genital mutilation. All surgery carries risk, infection, poor workmanship, healing problems, scarring, loss of sensation, even death from complications. This is a lot of risk for something that is not even a true representation of women and is totally unnecessary.

Censorship laws are supposed to protect the population from damaging sexuality, not promoting genital mutilation!

There is also a possible connection with pedophilia. Sexually immature girls have small labia that are not visible from the outside - “a single crease” to quote the Photoshop artist. When a woman reaches puberty, she grows breasts and labia. These are normal secondary sexual characteristics of womanhood. The censorship laws are requiring adult women to look like little girls! If men become habituated to these images, it is a small step to finding under age girls themselves sexually arousing and desirable.

Censorship laws are supposed to protect under age girls, not turn them into objects of desire!

Our culture already sexualises under age girls to a great extent causing enormous suffering to women. This is one more example. You can read more about the sexualisation of girls in, “Getting Real” edited by Melinda Tankard Reist, published by Spinifex, 2009.

Human Papillomavirus vaccine and virginity pledges

Last week in "The Canberra Times" there was an article about mothers refusing to give their daughters the Human Papillomavirus vaccine. The vaccine protects against Human Papillomavirus that causes cervical cancer. Approximately 20% of mothers believed that the vaccine would induce their daughters to become promiscuous. It is very sad that even in this age of high technology and scientific advances, 20% of the population confuses health with morals.

Surveys of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy rates done on young people who vowed abstinence interestingly show they have similar instances of sexually transmitted diseases as the control group who did not vow abstinence. The explanation was that teens vowing abstinence may have been practicing manual, oral or anal sex in order to remain technically virgin, but were not practicing safe sex. These other sexual activities can transmit sexual diseases.

Vaccinations are an insurance to protect against a bad event happening. To suggest that vaccines will induce bad behaviour is like saying that people who receive a Tetanus vaccine will go and hammer a rusty nail into their foot! NO. But if they accidently tread on a rusty nail, they are protected from Tetanus. It is a health issue.

It is also like seat belts in a car. Seat belts have been compulsory in Australia for decades. We wear them to protect ourselves in the event of an accident. People drive because they want to go somewhere. There is no evidence that people drive more often or become worse drivers in cars with seat belts. It is a safety issue.

Most people including teens participate in sexual activities because they are in a relationship. They do not think about their health status at the height of passion. Therefore any safe sex practices, including vaccinations, will reduce their exposure to harm. Vaccinations and safe sex practices are health issues.

Virginity pledges and abstinence promotion is a good thing and aims to empower teens to responsible sexual relationships. Problems arise when abstinence promotion comes without education on sexual health, disease protection and contraception. We all need sexual health because we all have sex organs.

Sexual health and Christianity

Yesterday at church a guest speaker described 'safe sex' as an encouragement for promiscuity!! This is an outrage!! Safe sex is a health issue. People can become very ill and die from lack of knowledge in this area. Lack of knowledge also leads to further transmission and even more people suffering. To have knowledge that can protect against deadly diseases and to withhold that knowledge is morally irresponsible. Those people are in part responsible for any subsequent suffering or death.

We all know that washing hands reduces transmission of diarrhoea. If we recommend the washing of hands, does that make people more prone to gluttony or obesity because now they can eat without getting sick??? Of course not!!

If we recommend hand washing then we will have a healthier community.

If we recommend safe sex then we will have a healthier community.

What is more important, a condom or a person's life? What is more important, a vaccine or a person's life? What is more important, a contraception or a person's life? I chose a healthy life!

I am glad the Australian government is promoting the vaccination of girls and young women under 26 against human papillomavirus which causes cervical cancer. See link for more info, HPV

We all need sexual health because we all have sex organs.

New Endometriosos clinic in Canberra

Great news! The Canberra Times has a short note about a new Endometriosis Clinic opening in Canberra, Australia. This will improve the health and reduce suffering for many women. Women of all reproductive ages can have this debilitating and often painful condition. It can reduce fertility and certainly affects a woman's productivity. Now women can get treatment more easily in Canberra.

Story is written up in IBN news