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New website aims to change conversation surrounding women’s health issues

Click to play video: 'Changing the dialogue on women’s health and fertility' Changing the dialogue on women’s health and fertility
Writer, photographer and Alba A New Dawn founder Kristina Kasparian joins Global's Andrea Howick and Kim Sullivan to talk about her new website and initiative to help change the conversation regarding women's health and fertility – Mar 23, 2018

Kristina Kasparian has suffered from endometriosis for 20 years.

Endometriosis is when cells that normally make up the lining of the uterus are found elsewhere in the abdomen, usually in the pelvic region. It can cause severe pain, particularly during menstruation, or it can contribute to infertility.

It can be difficult to diagnose and in Kasparian’s case, it took 16 years to finally get answers.

“It doesn’t show up on scans and it can cause a whole variety of symptoms depending on where these tissues grow,” Kasparin said as she explained why it took so long to get a diagnosis.

“The tissues don’t only affect the reproductive organs, they can show up on the bladder on the intestines, on the liver and the muscles and nerves.”

READ MORE: Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women – here’s how to recognize the symptoms

An estimated one out of 10 women is affected by endometriosis, but despite being a common disease, it is not often talked about.

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“I think there’s a stigma around women’s pain, which makes it difficult for women to keep pressing to get the answers that they need,” Kasparian said.

Before writing a book on the topic, Kasparian herself was loath to discuss her illness.

“I always thought it was a sign of weakness, that it was very private and that nobody wanted to know about my uterus,” she said.

Now Kasparian is hoping to change the conversation surrounding women’s health and fertility, with the launch of a new website: Alba — A new dawn for women’s health.

READ MORE: Lena Dunham reveals she underwent hysterectomy to battle endometriosis

The idea for the site came to Kasparian after she started her own travel photography business.

“I started to learn so much about other women, many who are entrepreneurs and who were trying to thrive in their careers, and they were talking about infertility, about their health struggles and about cancer,” she said.

“I thought I would create something where it would be a hub of people, stories, portraits, resources and also art. That is how Alba was born.”

READ MORE: 7 fertility myths and misconceptions Canadian women need to know

The goal is for women and their loved ones to have a forum where they can share their stories and access resources, but Kasparian also hopes artwork featured on the site — designed by artists who want to contribute to the cause — will help reach a wider audience.

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“These products are sold in the storefront and they raise awareness in a way because it’s not only the people who are directly affected by this that should be talking about it,” she said, adding endometriosis is often misunderstood.

“It’s so much more than pelvic pain. It’s so far reaching in your day-to-day life and your mental health.”

For more information on endometriosis, or to learn how you can be involved with the movement, visit the Alba website.

— With files from Leslie Young, Global News

 

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