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Many Teens Suffering From Baffling Pain Don't Know It's Endometriosis07:07
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Emily Hatch and her mother, Mary Alice Hatch (Courtesy)
Emily Hatch and her mother, Mary Alice Hatch (Courtesy)

During this week's CommonHealth segment we're talking about teenage girls and a rarely discussed health issue that plagues many of them each year: endometriosis. Doctors estimate that about 6 million American women suffer from the condition, which often brings about severe pelvic pain, among other symptoms.

CommonHealth co-host Rachel Zimmerman wrote about a mother's struggle to find out what was happening to her teenage daughter, who had experienced stabbing pain in her abdomen. For Emily Hatch, the pain started suddenly at a Taylor Swift concert when she was 13 years old:

She clutched her stomach and doubled over, but that didn’t help. Before the song ended, she was rushed by wheelchair to an infirmary at the Boston stadium and her father was summoned to drive her home. “The pain was so bad I couldn’t stand up,” Emily recalled. “It was so sad because I’d been looking forward to the concert all year.”

That was the start of a medical odyssey in which the teenager from Wellesley saw seven specialists, underwent numerous invasive tests including a colonoscopy and endoscopy, and endured countless needles and scans of her body. Despite all that, her mother says, her underlying diagnosis eluded top experts at three major hospitals. At least one doctor told Emily she’d just have to live with the terrible pain. And while she was shuttling between doctors and missing school, Emily tried to keep her condition a secret, not telling friends because, well, she’s a typical teenager. “I just didn’t want to feel different,” she said.

Finally, after 18 months without a firm diagnosis, Emily and her mother, Mary Alice Hatch, found a doctor in Boston who was able to treat her.

In October, at age 14, Emily underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston and only then learned she had Stage II endometriosis.

Guests:

  • Dr. Marc Laufer, chief of Gynecology at Children's Hospital Boston and the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Rachel Zimmerman, co-host, WBUR's CommonHealth blog

More:

This segment aired on March 27, 2012.

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