Duffy, also known as "Duff," is a multi-talented, self-effacing
beauty who has worked as a TV personality, MTV VJ, Revlon spokesmodel,
journalist and actress. In 1998, Duffy was diagnosed with endometriosis,
a condition that affects an estimated six million women in the United
States. In an effort to increase awareness of endometriosis, Ms. Duffy
has teamed up with the National Women's Health Resource Center. Karen
Duffy's public service announcements, which began airing in March, strongly
encourage women to re-examine menstrual period pain and to discuss their
symptoms with their health care professionals.
Endometriosis is not the most serious health problem Duffy has faced.
Duffy's inspiring and hilarious memoir, Model
Patient: My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass, is an account of her carefree
days as a young adult, how she found fame and the great fun that she has
had with it, and how she discovered and dealt with a disease that may
have changed her body, but it didn't change her. In 1995, she was diagnosed
with Sarcoidosis, a rare incurable disease that attacks the central nervous
system. "I tried to write a book not for sick people, but for people
with a sick sense of humor," Duff explains. The book is irreverent,
witty, dishy and fun - not a typical book about illness.
I was supposed to be getting ready for an important shoot.
Instead I was on the couch - doubled over from what I thought were typical monthly
cramps. You might know the feeling -- millions of women do.
For years, I smiled for the cameras and hid how I felt. I did what too many
women do -- wrote off my period pain as just part of being a woman. I thought
I knew everything about being a female until I realized what I thought were
regular monthly cramps, weren't regular at all. Finally, I took control of my
monthly pain and had a serious talk with my doctor. And what that doctor found
changed my life.
It turned out my period wasn't the problem, endometriosis was.
Just like five and a half million other women in the United
States, I suffer from endometriosis, a common condition found in women during
their reproductive years. Endometriosis is without question one of the most
puzzling conditions that affect women. The cause is unclear and no cure exists,
but treatments are available to help alleviate the symptoms.
If you are like most women, you have probably experienced cramps with your
period at one time or another. Some women experience only mild discomfort during
their period. But for others, the pain can be unbearable. It can interfere
with your daily routine, such as time with your family or friends - cramps can
even force you to miss work.
While a certain amount of cramping associated with your period is normal, painful
cramps that keep you from maintaining an active daily life may be a sign of
endometriosis. Painful cramps are what led me to my doctor, and that's how
I found out that I have endometriosis.
As women, we are taught that monthly cramps are just part of your period.
What many women don't know is that pain associated with our periods may be a
symptom of a more serious underlying problem - endometriosis.
Endometriosis is painful, and can be quite serious. If you are experiencing
painful cramps, take charge of the pain and talk to your doctor today. Remember,
cramps are not just part of being a woman.
So how did I beat the pain? By finally taking control. Reexamine your period
and talk to your doctor about the monthly pain you experience. Because it takes
an average of 4.6 years before a woman is accurately diagnosed with endometriosis,
get help early. Please don't wait as long as I did.
I learned that not all cramps are the same, and that I don't have to put up
with cramps just because I'm a woman. Most importantly, I learned that painful
cramps experienced for six months or more is considered chronic pelvic pain
- a key symptom of endometriosis.
Thankfully, my doctor helped
me find an effective treatment. What a relief to not have to suffer every
month! If you are experiencing painful cramps, take charge of your pain and
talk to your doctor today.
To learn more about endometriosis, click here.
"Making the Cramp Connection" is a free 16-page patient education booklet designed
to help women better understand cramps, chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis.
This booklet can be obtained by calling 1-866-FOR-ENDO.
Created: 6/12/2002  - Karen Duffy