Stories about: Marc Laufer

Endometriosis and the gift of motherhood

Allie and her toddler son in their apartment

When my first period came at age 13, it involved blood clots and extreme pain. I didn’t know what to expect or what was considered “normal,” but, thankfully, my mother did. She recognized that my symptoms were unusual and immediately took me to see my pediatrician. I was first prescribed birth control pills, which seemed to help initially, but when my period remained heavy and painful, I was put on a different birth control pill that enabled me to have my period only four times a year.

I thought my situation was normal — albeit uncomfortable and inconvenient. No one ever suggested painful periods could be anything more than bad luck. I would hear women talk about menstrual cramping and see advertisements for medications to relieve menstrual symptoms … I just figured I had bad periods like so many other adolescent and adult women.

I believed that for years.

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Endometriosis isn’t curable, but it doesn’t have to be such a pain.

Having painful cramps isn’t really something a typical 14-year-old girl wants to think or talk about. Most girls assume that it’s normal and just part of the process of growing up. But when intense pain started to interrupt Brittany Berg’s social and academic life, she knew she needed to speak up.

It began during her freshman year of high school when the pain would get so bad she couldn’t focus while she studied at night. She’d lie down, hoping for sleep, but would still be overcome with discomfort. The only female in her drum line at school, Brittany couldn’t easily explain to her bandmates why she was a little slower on some days, or why the pressure of holding the drum caused even more pain.

She tried her best to explain to her friends what she was going through, hoping they could relate, but since she didn’t understand it herself, it made little difference.

Finally, Brittany talked to her mother and saw a doctor. She had a pelvic ultrasound and was prescribed birth control pills, which are often used to regulate a women’s menstrual cycle. However, this treatment only added mild depression and weight gain to Brittany’s list of irritating symptoms. Frustrated, and still not knowing the root of her pain, Brittany tried another type of birth control pill that her doctor prescribed, one that is taken every three months instead. Even though the pain lessened a little, it was still there.

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Children’s makes the Top Doc list

Boston Magazine recently released its 2011 Top Doc list, made up of the best 650 physicians in the Hub. Seeing as Boston is home to some of the greatest medical minds on the planet, the list reads like a prestigious who’s-who roster of talent; a medical dream team spanning every aspect of treatment, from surgery to research and innovation.

Broken into 57 different specialties, doctors included on the list are voted for by fellow medical professionals, meaning that the Top Docs have not only gained the respect of the public and media, but of their peers as well.

Children’s Hospital Boston is proud to announce that over 10 percent of the entire list was made up of our staff, many of whom will be familiar to Thriving readers.

David Ludwig, MD, PhD

As director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital, David Ludwig, MD, PhD, is a respected leader in childhood obesity research and prevention, as well as a regular Thriving contributor and interviewee. In a recent post Ludwig explains why he supports legislation that would restrict the amount of junk food available through public assistance programs. For more blogs on Dr. Ludwig’s work, click here.

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In 2004 Children’s Chief of Cardiac Surgery, Pedro del Nido, MD, was the first person to use the da Vinci surgical robot to fix a defect in a child’s heart, using child-sized tools of his own design. Read about another family whose child was also saved by Dr. del Nido’s surgical expertise and steady hands.

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Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH

Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of Children’s Division of Sports Medicine, helps many young athletes work through their sports related injuries. Most recently Dr. Kocher and one of his patients was featured on ABC World News, a segment that included a guest appearance by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

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David Hunter, MD, PhD

David Hunter, MD, PhD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Department of Ophthalmology has spent years helping young people see better. In this recent blog post, Dr. Hunter weighs in on new research that indicates that the amount of time a toddler spends outside could have a direct, positive relationship on his developing eyesight.

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Children’s to host MRKH conference

During pregnancy, a baby’s reproductive system may not finish developing in the mother’s uterus. When this happens she may be born without a vagina and have other abnormal reproductive organs, the most common being Mayer-von Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser’s Syndrome (MRKH). It’s not unusual for the condition to go undiagnosed until puberty. The Center for Young Women’s Health at Children’s Hospital Boston offers free monthly chats for young women with MRKH, as well as host an annual conference where families whose lives have been affected by MRKH can come together, bond and learn about the condition. This year’s conference is happening on October 22. (Click here for details.)

In the following blog post, a three-time conference attendee describes how the experience has changed her understanding of MRKH and ultimately her views on life.

A MRKH diagnosis can leave some young women feeling very alone

I could never have anticipated the profound effect MRKH would have on my life. At 17, I considered myself happy, confident and strong. But when I was diagnosed with MRKH all of those feelings were challenged. Suddenly, the only dream that seemed to matter was the dream of having a family.

Learning the reality of my diagnosis—I would never be pregnant because I was born without a vagina and uterus—devastated me. It shattered my confidence, robbed me of my happiness and put my strength to the ultimate test.  It’s easy to be strong when you can’t imagine a life different from what you’ve come to expect; that strength becomes harder to muster when faced with an unknown future. After diagnosis I struggled to cope with something I didn’t understand and couldn’t fix.

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