Listen: Author and triple j host Bridget Hustwaite has set out to change the narrative surrounding endometriosis
Following her diagnosis of the “invisible illness” back in 2018, How to Endo is the book Bridget Hustwaite wished she had as a teenager.
For so long, conversations surrounding women’s health have been confined to the walls of doctors’ offices, hospitals, and hushed talks among friends. This may be the reason why it’s hard to fathom that one in nine Australians suffer with endometriosis.
Broadcaster of triple j’s Good Nights program Bridget Hustwaite has set out to change the narrative surrounding endometriosis by writing a book called How to Endo. She joined Sam on Hope Breakfast to explain why endometriosis is one of the least understood health conditions.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation around the condition,” Bridget said.
“It’s essentially this chronic condition in which the tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus and it can be found everywhere – it has actually been found on every major organ in the body from the diaphragm, the bowel, your bladder, your pelvic sidewalls, it is this whole body condition.
“Unfortunately there’s no known cure or cause. Unfortunately, at the moment, we have more questions than answers.”
Although thankfully, the conversation around the illness is changing. The Government rolled out a national action plan for endometriosis in 2018, organisations are holding public conversations, and more public figures including Emma Wiggle are sharing about their experiences.
Bridget was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2018, after more than a decade of battling severe period pain.
“If we base it on the first time I ever saw a doctor based on my period pain concerns, which was when I was 15, it was really painful and really hard to deal with, especially going to school,” she said.
Bridget’s doctor didn’t suggest endometriosis as an option as to what she was living with.
“I had another doctor who I was recommended to and they didn’t believe me. Literally said to my face: ‘You don’t have endometriosis, others have it worse than you.’ And, that’s such a common thing, which is really sad. The more people I’ve spoken to over the years, it’s happened to too many people.”
It wasn’t until 12 years (and many doctors) later, that Bridget received a diagnosis, and soon after had surgery for the condition.
“It’s a chronic illness, this is a constant thing. I had endo removed last year, but it could very much grow back. I still experience symptoms that I have to work on through various forms of management,” Bridget said.
Lots of reading on endometriosis led to Bridget finding a real gap in the market and she saw an opportunity to help others with the illness. How to Endo is written to not only educate on endometriosis but also encourage those living with it.
“I was reading a lot of books on endo but there was a real void that was a mix of a patient experience and blending in practical advice and doing it in a really accessible way,” she said.
“I needed [How to Endo] to be what I needed when I was 15, where I could understand what was happening and I’m reading it from someone who is guiding me through because they have been it as well.”
If you have, or suspect you may have, endometriosis, information and support can be found at QENDO, Endo Active, and Endometriosis Australia. How to Endo is available now. Listen to the full interview with Bridget Hustwaite in the player above.