I’ve spoken a few times in the past about polycystic ovary syndrome, but in this post I want to spread awareness for another condition that effects millions of women all over the world. Endometriosis.
Now I personally didn’t know a whole lot about this condition until recently so I thought it best to ask someone who has experienced it first hand. Beth has been suffering with endo since she was a teenager, so I asked her to answer some of the main questions women need to know about endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endo is a chronic condition where the womb lining (endometrium) attaches itself where it shouldn’t. This most commonly is on the outside of the womb and on the ovaries, but some people have even had it found on their eyes and lungs.
How do you get diagnosed?
Go to your doctor if you think something isn’t right with your periods. Endo is hard to diagnose and lots of research is still being done on it. It I surprisingly common despite being so hard to diagnose because doctors often try people on various contraceptive pills first. My personal diagnosis took a very long time. Starting periods at 10 but having them come and go for 5 years didn’t help but then all hell broke lose and my periods became extended and painful. I was put on various contraceptives in an attempt to balance my hormones. After a referral to the gynaecologist at 17, I eventually had a diagnostic laparoscopy at 18. This is a key hole surgery and you can be in and out in a day. If they find anything they will remove it.
What is it like living with it?
Painful, debilitating and pretty inconvenient. Periods are heavy and very, very painful. I’m often sick with the pain and bleed through tampons and pads within an hour and my mood swings are foul. Imagine a normal period times 10. I also find my sleep pattern is interrupted, I pick up horrible bugs, either eat to much or have no appetite. Toilet functions aren’t normal (lots of people suffer with bladder and/or bowel issues with endo.) I’m tired all the time, you feel physically and mentally exhausted. Being in pain takes it out of you.
Some people also experience pain and/or bleeding during sex. Getting pregnant can be an issue for some women, depending on how sever it is (it is graded 1-4, 4 being the worst). Fertility rates can be reduced with endo but there are also other options AND lots of women still manage to have a baby despite having endometriosis, so don’t panic. I found after two laparoscopes and a move to the contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera) my symptoms are less debilitating and I can enjoy a happy and healthy life and relationships.
How to cope day to day?
Have me time, read a book, take yourself for dinner or buy yourself something. Do something that makes you feel good. For pain management, always have painkillers on hand, use hot water bottles or take hot baths to ease the pain. Depression is a big part of endo so make sure you get out of the house and do things, keeping yourself shut up will drop your mood very quickly. Change your diet, cut out all the foods that don’t agree with you and eat healthily. Doing exercise will help with the pain, even if it’s just going for a walk, just get your body moving. Have a good support base, having friends and family that you can talk to can be make or break on the harder days.
Advice for people who think they may have it?
Please go to a medical profession such as your GP. The more knowledgeable you are on the symptoms and the more you can prevent it then the quicker it will be to diagnose. Don’t suffer with the pain and don’t do it in silence. Just be careful with the pain killers and make sure you take the dosage the Dr prescribes. Exercise, lifestyle and diet changes all are worth trying. Some people are aggravated by certain foods, smoking, alcohol etc. In addition even though exercise feels like the last thing you want to do, it can relax tight muscles. Ask you GP for help and don’t be scared.
If any of the things Beth has mentioned sound like something that you have been through then it may be worth checking with your GP. The more we are aware of this condition the quicker women like Beth can get diagnosed and get help for their pain.
Don’t suffer in silence, reach out and know that you are not alone.