Couple's battle to have children against 'invisible' disease
IT AFFECTS one in 10 Australian women and can go undetected for years, dealing out severe pain.
But for Noosa nurse Ae-Ran Richardson, the physical and financial torment of endometriosis is nothing, her price is far greater.
For the past four years, she and husband Simon have been fighting an uphill battle to have children.
She's had surgery on endo five times and spent more than $10,000 on IVF.
The young woman's journey with the "invisible" disease started almost a decade ago when she was 18.
What began as "terrible" lower back pain and irregular periods was only the start.
It wasn't until she was 24 when she was finally diagnosed with endo found on her bowel, sacroiliac ligaments, bladder, ovary, uterus and around her pelvis area.
"I had a laparoscopy and ablation which finally gave me a diagnosis," the hopeful mother said.
"One day I'll be feeling okay and the next I'll be stuck in bed in pain and fatigue.
"We have to bail on our close friends multiple times because it gets too much."
After the initial diagnosis the pain in her back improved, but her period and bowel motions became "unbearable".
She went and saw a new specialist in Brisbane, for a second dose of surgery to remove the endo in her ovary.
There she suffered an arterial bleed and had a third operation, where she spent a week in hospital.
The pain did not subside.
The Richardsons were then told to try for a baby - which for them, the timing was right.
"We went in full of hope starting IVF as they said our chances were high," she said.
"But none of my eggs fertilised.
"IVF is so much out of our control we have found that we just have to hold on. But it can be so taxing.
"There are still times when I have a bad day I just start crying."
A third lot of unsuccessful treatment hit them like a tonne of bricks.
"Even though we were expecting the worst the news was still heart breaking."
Their plight to have children has reached the community, with loved ones coming together with aid.
A GoFundMe Page has raised more than $2000 for the couple to keep fighting - which they have vowed to do.
"We will keep trying for a babies, it is something that is very important to Simon and I but at the moment we need to pay off our debts from previous IVF cycles and save up for the next attempt," she said.
"We have also looked at using donor eggs, surrogacy and adoption and will look further into these options if it continues to fail.
"There are so many options and avenues and we will end up growing our family even if it isn't through conventional means.
"We won't let this win."
So what is Endometriosis?
Endo is a common disease in which the tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it in other parts of the body.
More than 740,000 Australian women suffer with endometriosis at some point in their life with the disease often starting in teenagers.
Symptoms are variable and this may contribute to the seven to 12 year delay in diagnosis.
Up to 50 per cent of women who have endo experience difficulties falling pregnant.
Help and support for Sunshine Coast women
March is Endo Awareness Month and Coast business Fertility Solutions is supporting the cause by hosting a morning tea on March 19 at 10am. It is their aim to raise money and awareness for the crippling disease.
Donations can be made through the Fertility Solutions website.