Back in January we asked if you would take part in a study of women’s health. You were so generous with your time and info. Teja Jaensch has posted an update for you.

Dear EndoActive Australia & New Zealand members and administrators!

Thank you so much for contributing to the women’s health study I conducted with Western Sydney University! I have analysed my results and am putting together my thesis which will be submitted in June. After this results will be published in several peer reviewed journals, a process that takes (a whole heap of…) time. My primary hypothesis was that gastrointestinal and gynaecological issues are interrelated, or rather, comorbid. Let’s just say that my results make me (even more) confident in this hypothesis…

We received over 2000 responses to our correlational survey, which asked about GI and GY symptoms, issues with fertility, gestation and birth, postnatal issues and mental health. Thanks to your efforts we had a large response from those with endometriosis (n=724), which allowed me to do a sub-analysis on the differences between endometriosis sufferers and those with other GY conditions. Of the total sample, 999 women left their details for further interviewing about their case.

As I have no funding or assistance with this project, I am not able to (currently) interview everyone. A random sample of those who reported severe health concerns has been made, and I have began the interview process. If you have already been interviewed, or have responded to my email invitation, thank you! The stories I’ve heard so far are both harrowing and inspiring, and have highlighted areas specific to endometriosis that I hadn’t covered in my survey and will frame further research.

As results are published, I will share links to the articles here on EndoActive. My supervisors at Western Sydney University and the National Institute of Complementary Medicine were really inspired by the contribution women with endometriosis, or those supporting others with endometriosis, made to this research, and really look forward to collaborating again.

As a side note, some of my literature reviewing brought me into the areas of ‘exercise for depression’. This research suggests that people who feel depressed should exercise X amount a day to feel better. As you will see (eventually, and I’m really sorry that this whole process takes so darned long), my study explored not only the GI/GY relationship, but also the psyche/soma hypothesis: that mental health is intimately related to the bodily condition. If someone is chronically unwell, this will most often impact their mental health.

Sometimes exercising is just not an option, as well-intentioned the advice might be. One participant described just getting off the bed to use the bathroom as ‘my insides are tearing’. I’m hoping that this line of research will soften the stiff edges of the ‘exercise for depression’ movement in research so it becomes more inclusive (and relevant) to those with physical morbidity.

Thank you all again! What has become clear in all of this is that we in medicine (in whatever guise) and research have to do better. I’m sorry that it is taking us so long.

Chen Manching once proclaimed that ‘the health of our country is determined by the health of our women’.
Regards, Teja