Who has his period, must suffer. That's what women take for granted – a fatal misconception. Whom regular pains spoil everyday life should go to the doctor. Anna Wilken knows that today. She has endometriosis, the disease that so many women have and often goes undetected.
One in ten women has endometriosis and no one cares. This is very important because no one knows what endometriosis is. The disease is not like a broken arm. You can not see them from the outside – not even doctors. And it is not measurable. Severe menstrual pain is often the first clue to a diagnosis. But the disease can just as well go on for years without discomfort. In endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus settles outside the uterine cavity, where it is not supposed to belong. Cysts and inflammations occur as so-called Endometrioseherde especially on the ovaries, on the intestine or on the peritoneum. But they can also occur on the bladder and uterus and in rare cases on the lungs and diaphragm. Those affected receive medication, painkillers or hormone preparations. Often, they also need surgery. DISPLAY Usually I am strong: Endometriosis: Why we have to take our abdominal pain seriously! * Data protection "Tissue-like tissue – it makes everyone tight", says Anna Wilken. She has become something of the German face of the disease since she made her story public in March 2017. "The problem is that you can not explain the disease in three sentences," she says. "That's why nobody knows about it." The 23-year-old is trying to change that. She has written a book about endometriosis together with her co-author Saskia Hirschberg. With "In general, I'm strong," she says of her own experiences and clarifies around the topic. It's about menstrual pain and diarrhea. To dizziness, missed cinema visits, psychological problems and fertility protheses. Wilken has long considered whether she should make her illness public at all. Since her participation in the casting show "Germany's Next Top Model" in 2014 she works as a model. On Instagram you follow over 200,000 people. They want to know what she's doing, admire her outfits or her bright smile. Whether they want to hear about their pain, Wilke did not know for a long time. "I was scared that I would get stupid comments or not get jobs because I'm sick," she recalls. For weeks she knows what she wants to write. When a planned operation fails, she drops the post and shares her frustration with her fans. Honor and Pressure One out of every ten women has endometriosis. (Photo: Arya Shirazi) "I was shocked how many are affected," says Wilken. "Back then, I did not realize that with the 'one in ten' I never thought that I would write a book about endometriosis and give interviews on it, I just wanted to get rid of what's on my mind. " But she is not alone – she is one in ten. Today, they receive countless messages from other victims every day. Wilken tries to answer everyone, even if she lags behind several months. "It's an honor that so many want to hear my opinion," says Wilken. "But it's also an enormous pressure, I do not want to be responsible for what the girls are doing." Because endometriosis does not bring a clear clinical picture and every woman's course is different, advice is difficult. What one patient has taken to be the decisive step in the direction of recovery does not have to work for the next one. Even doctors are already at a loss. According to Wilken, only a few really know about endometriosis. "I was only in a clinic where I was not happy at all," she recalls. "But you can not do it with everyone, so you have to look for it until it fits." Until endometriosis is diagnosed, it takes on average six to ten years. Wilken first said that adolescence was guilty, then psychological problems. And, like so many other women, she got to hear: Menstrual pain is normal. Ache is not normal "My mother always said that," says Wilken. So she also feared for years, possibly just hiring – a widespread misconception. It was only much later that she learned from gynecologist Mechsner, who is researching endometriosis at the Berlin Charité and supported Wilken in her book: "If symptoms keep you from your daily routine, ie if the pain is so severe that you are not going to work or go to school, that's definitely not normal. " Most women have never heard of endometriosis before they were diagnosed. Wilken is therefore campaigning for better education. In the waiting rooms of medical practices should be better or even informed about endometriosis, she finds. More money for the research was crucial, but also every private conversation about the topic was important. Wilken has found ways to deal with her illness, and is cheerful. (Photo: private) It's not the worst time to talk about endometriosis. Not only because it is important, but also because society and the media are now openly and never discussing issues related to women's health. "There was a big turnaround," says Wilken. Nevertheless, she still encounters resistance herself. "People think the topic is disgusting," she says. And above all means men. They should also feel addressed by their activism. "As a man, you can love a woman who has endometriosis, or have a daughter who is affected, or you just can not have a daughter at all, because the woman has endometriosis." That's how Wilken gets the people. "When I say that I'm barren, they listen to me," she knows from experience. Anyway, with a child's wish, most of them can do something abstractly. Many women with endometriosis can have children. But in 40 to 60 percent of those who can not get it, there is endometriosis behind it, informed the endometriosis association Germany.Muss scheiße look? Wilken is 21 years old, when she enters a fertility clinic for the first time. At that time she does not want a baby, she is just curious. Today, she has to think about whether she should do everything to get pregnant, because otherwise it might not be possible later. "I used to yell at my mom about how unfair it is," she admits. But she also knows how lucky she is, that with her diagnosis she has the opportunity to take any action at all. What Wilken is up to the present day is anyone who thinks she should not be so sensitive or subject her to it to advance her illness. "On Instagram, people keep writing to me: 'You look so good, you can not go that bad,' says Wilken. 'I've found a very good answer to that, I think:' When I feel like shit 'Do I have to look like shit?' "Others go to Wilken's age to party or spontaneously go to the seaside for a weekend, but Wilken can do it all, but not always, and the pain can come back at any time." It's a pity that you can not join in there now. But my friends have to accept that, "she says," who does not understand that, has no place in my life. "