You might not know what Endometriosis is, but I guarantee that you either know someone who is suffering from this disease, or you might even have it yourself!
First up, a few facts: Endometriosis is a medical condition found in women (apparently men can suffer from this as well, though), where the tissue that is meant to grow inside your uterus, actually grows outside of it, in different parts of your body (these are called lesions).
Basically, this causes intense pain especially during your period, but in some cases, it causes daily pain. The problem is that these lesions bleed when you’re on your period just like your uterus tissues. It’s not diagnosed often, because when our friend/sister/daughter tells us she has bad period pains, we automatically assume this is something natural that she can deal with. We tell her to suck it up and stop being hysterical, or tell her that everyone has it and it’s really not that bad. In some cases, you will tell her to see a gynecologist, who won’t find anything in a standard test and will refer her to a psychologist. Some women are told to get pregnant and the pain will stop, others are told to have a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and other reproductive organs).
You can see we have a problem here. Since about 6%-10% of women all over the world have this condition, we have to spread awareness for this disease.
For me, I first heard the term from my now-boyfriend. He knew someone who had been dealing with it, and suspected my terrible pain stemmed from this. Being in the military with this kind of crippling pain each and every month is no picnic, especially when no sane doctor will give you medical leave for getting your period (this is true for me now as well – what boss can really sympathise and understand the meaning of your life with this disease?). I more or less ignored his advice to check this option out, because I couldn’t possibly have a disease. Then my mum heard the term from a friend of hers, and immediately set me an appointment at the Endometriosis Center in Shiba Hospital.
By the point of diagnosis, I had been suffering with stomach cramps and terrible pain from the age of 11. I got my period at 12, and the pain just got worse, until at some point I just gained a very high pain threshold and learned to function even during the worst of it. I was often tired and had low energy. I felt nauseous a lot during the day (even when I was not on my period). I missed a lot of school, work and other experiences. Some days I just couldn’t get out of bed. My period flows would be very heavy, and the days before I got my period would be an intense emotional roller coaster. My thighs would swell up and be very painful during the days running up to my period and during. I would be running to the bathroom several times a day during my period, although the rest of the month I was constipated. Sex was painful for me. Some women experience infertility, and that is an issue I will need to deal with when the time comes – up to 50% of women with Endometriosis are infertile (often infertile women who go through IVF treatments find out the reason for it is Endometriosis).
It scares me to think that I won’t be able to have kids, or that it will be immensely difficult to have a child. Thankfully, I was diagnosed and am being treated. I am on the pill, and where you normally have to take a break to get your period, I don’t take a break – therefore not getting my period. This method does have its side effects, but the alternative is much worse. The next step is to have a test called Laparoscopy, where a camera is inserted to check exactly where these lesions are, and after that an operation to have them removed (although there is a 10% chance it will return).
To those of you who know someone with these symptoms, or have them yourself – I recommend getting yourself checked. The sooner you are diagnosed, the easier it will be for you to improve your life and possibly solve the problem and avoid the problem of infertility. There are solutions, and there is more and more research being done into Endometriosis as the years go by. The most important thing is to educate yourself and others about this condition and to be sympathetic to others who are ill. Don’t forget – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Many women experience a lot of the same symptoms, and can relate and help you through.
Hope you have a fab day and I hope you learned a bit about this oh so common disease.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!!