This is a post I’ve written, scrapped, and re-written again and again over the past few weeks. It’s a very personal subject for me, as I’ve suffered with Endometriosis for a few years and it affects my everyday life. I debated with myself many times over whether I should share my experiences or not, and warned many times that people online can be cruel. However, given that March is Endometriosis Awareness Month I’ve decided to post a short introduction to the disease.
Endometriosis is a chronic illness that affects approximately 176 million women worldwide. An estimated 1 in 10 women are affected, making it extremely common, but despite this fact not many people have ever heard of it. With Endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus, called Endometrium, is found outside of the uterus. When the menstrual cycle begins, the brain sends signals for the excess Endometrium to bleed which causes inflammation, pain, lesions and scar tissue.
Each woman suffers differently with Endometriosis, depending on where the Endometrium grows and its quantity. Endometriosis is broken into four groups, group 1 being mild Endometriosis and group 4 being severe. It commonly grows on the ovaries, the bladder and the bowel which affects sex, bowel movements and voiding. In short, it’s not fun.
There are many symptoms of Endometriosis which apply to a wide range of gynecological conditions, meaning it is often difficult to diagnose. The average length of time it takes for a woman to be diagnosed with Endometriosis is ten years.
The symptoms of Endometriosis are as follows:
• Painful periods
• Painful ovulation
• Pain during or after sex
• Heavy bleeding
• Abnormal bleeding
• Chronic pelvic pain
• Painful bowel movements
Endometriosis also affects women physically, mentally and socially, with many women also suffering from depression. It is a very real physiological condition, yet many women are told before diagnosis that the pain is all in their head, which can lead to feelings of shame and isolation. It is not known what causes Endometriosis and there is no cure.
The only way to properly diagnose Endometriosis is through a laparoscopy – key hole surgery where a microscopic camera is inserted through the belly button. It can be treated with drugs to try to regulate periods and to dull the pain, but many treatments are not suitable for long term use due to potential side effects. Surgery can be performed to remove excess Endometrium, lesions and scar tissue, but over time the Endometrium can grow back.
Famous women who have suffered with Endometriosis include Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sarandon,Whoopi Goldberg, Pamela Anderson, Hillary Clinton and Dolly Parton.
I’ve had many treatments in an attempt to deal with my Endometriosis and I’m due to have another operation in April to remove lesions and scar tissue from my left ovary. I was supposed to have it in January earlier this year, but due to a shortage of hospital beds I have to wait another month. Here is a list of treatments I’ve had to help with my Endometriosis:
• A laparoscopy
• A colposcopy
• A hysteroscopy
• An endoscopy
• The pill
• Medically induced menopause
• The Mirena coil
• Pain medication
All of these treatments haven’t helped with my Endometriosis but I hope that with my next operation my symptoms will alleviate.
For the month of March I will be taking part in the #EndoPhotoChallenge over on Instagram where I will be providing more information on Endometriosis and how it affects me. Here is my IG if you want to follow my journey.
If you have concerns about any of the symptoms mentioned above please don’t hesitate to contact your GP. Excessive pain or bleeding is not normal. Don’t feel embarrassed or feel like you’re over-reacting and don’t worry about a potentially un-comfortable examination. Vaginas are sensitive and temperamental and 5 minutes of discomfort is well worth it in order to make sure that you’re safe and healthy. Take care of your coochie!
Thank you for reading, I hope you’ve found this post informative. Until next time, take care,
((Information taken from Endometriosis.org))
((Image belongs to artist Camila Carlow))