Everyone experiences pain from time to time. It hurts, but the pain passes. But for women living with pelvic pain or endometriosis, the pain is often severe and unrelenting, insidiously creeping into every aspect of their lives. Now, thanks to BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis, women across BC finally have access to the comprehensive, multidisciplinary medical help and hope they so desperately need.
Pelvic pain and endometriosis affects approximately 500,000 Canadian women, yet in the past the needs of these patients have been largely underserved. Dr. Christina Williams, a subspecialist gynecologist and surgeon, and medical director of BC Women’s Centre for Reproductive Health, has made it her mission to help these women.
“I’ve seen patients with pelvic pain become totally isolated and dysfunctional – in their relationships, in sex and even at their jobs,” says Williams. “What’s more, left untreated, this pain can evolve into chronic pain syndrome, causing a woman’s experience of pain to far exceed what the condition itself might create.”
BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis was established to address the unique complexities of pelvic pain and endometriosis as well as enhance women’s access to timely diagnosis and treatment. Its integrated team of specialists includes three gynecologist surgeons, a recent PhD fellow to oversee research, a full-time nurse, a counselor, a pelvic physiotherapist and a pain specialist.
“First we provide women with advanced diagnosis through taking a detailed history, ultrasound imaging and manual examination,” says Williams. “We then apply a multidisciplinary approach to treatment that might include surgery, hormone therapy or medication, physiotherapy, cognitive therapy and support groups.”
The Centre uses an online site to educate patients on the different kinds of pelvic conditions, the causes of pelvic pain, treatment options, pain management, and recovery from chronic pain.
“We also run monthly patient support groups,” adds Williams. “The groups work with a counselor and physiotherapist on learning to overcome pain.”
The Centre is also committed to conducting research to better understand pelvic pain and endometriosis on a molecular level to develop better interventions, as well as educational outreach to help train community-based physicians in identifying and treating pelvic pain.
“Our goal is to empower these women to regain control over their pain and their lives,” says Williams.
In this, the BC Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis is well on its way.
Written by: Ann Collette
Visit the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis website for more information.
Related Article: Development of a centre for interdisciplinary care of patients with pelvic pain and endometriosis (Feature Article in BC Medical Journal, June 2013).
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