Spreading Endometriosis Awareness Through Photography: Hannah Zint’s Story

We’re passing the mic to photographer Hannah Zint, who’s using her art to open conversations about a condition that affects 1 in 10 people with uteruses – including her

HANNAH ZINT | PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo: Hannah Zint

Words by Hannah Zint

“Endo… what?” – is the question most people who suffer from endometriosis get asked when they attempt to explain their illness. Far too many of us are unfamiliar with the term.

Endometriosis: A condition that gets little recognition in society and has been little researched, even though it affects around 10% of people with uteruses worldwide. It’s the second most common gynecological illness and is associated with excruciating pain. Endometriosis makes tissue grow where it doesn’t belong, for instance on the ovaries, intestines or peritoneum. This tissue is similar to the one of the lining of the uterus and can grow and bleed with the hormonal cycle. This can cause extreme pain and even permanent damage to organs.

HANNAH ZINT | PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo: Hannah Zint

My name is Hannah Zint. I’m a young photographer who was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis about a year and a half ago. For the past six months, I have worked on the photo series Hey Emma, which focuses on the physical pain and the added psychological burden experienced by people suffering from endometriosis. My purpose behind creating this series is to encourage women who are affected by this illness and also draw attention towards the need for further education on this topic.

Endometriosis is a widely unknown, and most people that are diagnosed with it have not even heard of this medical condition before. The timeframe between someone’s first symptoms and an accurate diagnosis will generally take up to ten years, and is a long and agonizing path marked by the stress of uncertainty and other psychological affects. One of the reasons for the prolonged and troublesome path to diagnose endometriosis is fact that period pain is accepted as normal in today’s society, which again leads to the predicament that the pain caused by endometriosis is not taken seriously enough to investigate; in fact, most folks are misdiagnosed as suffering from standard menstrual pain when really, they need treatment.

Additionally, our society still treats the topic of menstruation as a ‘taboo’ subject, meaning that women will get embarrassed if a tampon falls out of their bag or an awkward social moment is created by a red period blood stain appearing on someone’s jeans. Even just starting a conversation about the female menstrual cycle in public is perceived as controversial and often met with quiet criticism. Women will quickly be judged as overly dramatic when they talk about their menstruation or complain about period pain. That’s the reason many women avoid to openly talk about this topic. Now I asked myself this question: Why is it that menstruation is still such a taboo topic, and why is the associated pain played down so much?

Even though this sickness has been around a long time and has a high incidence rate, neither the cause has been established nor has an adequate treatment been established yet. Even gynecologists are
overwhelmed in dealing with this illness and have concluded only one treatment option, which is the artificial bringing about of menopause which is induced through heavy hormone therapy and is used to permanently repress the menstruation. These forms of therapy are associated with strong side effects, because of which many women are not able to endure this treatment long-term. The only other choice of treatment consists of undergoing multiple surgeries in an attempt to remove the endometriosis. However, the tissue accumulations could reappear and grow at any point in time and will also cause a lot of scarring, which again is the possible cause of more physical pain.

HANNAH ZINT | PHOTOGRAPHY

This illness desperately needs more means for extensive research, early symptom recognition and more media, as well as literature coverage to invite open conversation about the topic of the female
menstruation cycle and therefore invoke change. Excruciating period pain is not normal. My wish is that our society will evolve to the point where women can openly discuss their period, and their concerns about unusually painful menstruation will be taken seriously – instead of being met with the assumption that they are simply not strong enough to deal with it.

Photo: Hannah Zint

Through the development of my photo series I have come in contact with multiple women that also suffer from Endometriosis. I view my photography as a tool to communicate, to make the invisible seen, without the restrictions of language barriers or any form of ethical boundaries. The main motivation behind my photography is that I want to encourage and enable individuals, while also highlighting relevant topics in today’s society. I also love it to be creative and to dedicate my time towards others, photography is the tool I have found to combine these two. At the moment I’m working on a photo series about trauma. I meet up with women who suffer from low self-esteem
caused by a traumatic past and portray them. I’m also working on photos that give an insight in the feelings and consequences of trauma, and show the battle to overcome a trauma.

HANNAH ZINT | PHOTOGRAPHY

Hannah Zint is a 24-year-old photographer and communication designer based in Potsdam, Germany. Currently, she is studying design and photography at the University of Applied Science Potsdam. You can see the complete Hey Emma series on Hannah’s website hannahzint.photo and support her work here.

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