Elyria woman opens up about her struggle with a reproductive disease affecting 1 in 10 women

Posted at 12:55 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 13:04:36-05

For most women, pain around the time of your menstrual cycle is a cross that many bears. Some women, however, experience pain so severe, that it interrupts their everyday life. 1 in 10 women in the U.S. who battle this intense pain has a reproductive disease called Endometriosis.

With celebrities like Lena Dunham and Julianne Hough sharing their experiences, the disease is still a mystery for some. 

Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the uterus grows outside of the organ, and into the abdomen, for some causing intense pain.

Elyria woman Jen Ferebee was diagnosed with endometriosis back in 2012. For her, the pain came on suddenly, and after being driven to the ER, doctors thought her appendix burst.

Soon they diagnosed her with endometriosis, and after seeing an OBGYN, she received her first surgery to remove the endometriosis scar tissue.

Laparoscopic surgery is not only a surgery that cleans out the scar tissue of the disease, but it’s the only effective way of diagnosing whether or not a woman has endometriosis.

“We don’t want to do that unless we have a high suspicion based upon a patient's history and what they're complaining of then actually go in and actually identify the disease”,  said Dr. Kimberly Gesci.

Dr. Kimberly Gesci is the OBGYN Residency Director at University Hospitals and Ferebee's doctor.

Endometriosis is a difficult disease to diagnose, "there’s a broad range of symptoms, there’s a lot of women that don’t get diagnosed until their later 20s later 30s", says Dr. Gesci.

Not only is the disease difficult to diagnose, but it's difficult for women to assess their pain, and advocate for themselves to their doctors. It's often that women just assume their pain is normal, and out of fear of being silenced, never get the problem checked out. 

It is also one of the leading causes of infertility. A good portion of women who find out they have endometriosis, found out because they were having difficulty getting pregnant. 

For Ferebee, dealing with endometriosis over the last few years has even affected her career.

“I’ve had to call off work because of the endometriosis, and a lot of people don’t know about endometriosis”,  said Ferebee.

Having had her second and most recent laparoscopic surgery, Ferebee hopes that she’s looking towards a pain-free life, and the help of her doctor gave her that hope.

“Once you find that doctor and that doctor is totally there for you like mine it makes the world of a difference”, Ferebee said.

Women who are under the age of 35, and have not been successful getting pregnant after at least a year of trying, should consult with their physician about a possible endometriosis diagnosis.