*Disclaimer: Everything in this post is from personal experience and knowledge. Some of the descriptions are slightly graphic.*
What is Endometriosis?
“Endometriosis is the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body for a period, this blood has no way to escape.”
Endometriosis a chronic condition, this means that it will last for a while or for your entire life and currently there is no cure. (I know, I’m sorry.)
My Endo story began when I was 16, 2 years after my first period. I remember dreading every period, I know most women do, but I would be in tears on the first 3/4 days, doubled over in pain and feeling sick constantly.
As girls, we are told that painful periods are normal but when the pain starts taking over your day to day activities when it stops you from going to school or work, then you know it’s not normal.
My first gynaecological appointment was when I was around 17, they put me on two different medications to calm the pain and stem the amount of blood. Needless to say, this medication did nothing. I went back and forth to the hospital for appointments, different tablets and scans for 2 years before anybody said anything about endometriosis. As soon as the doctor mentioned it, I remember zoning out, Endometriosis sounds like a terrifying phrase, thankfully my Mum was in the room to listen to what the doctor had to say.
4 months later, June 2013, I had my first Laparoscopy (camera inserted into my belly button to see the reproductive organs, bowel and bladder). I was terrified, I’d had surgery before but never anything like this, nothing that would leave scars on my stomach. When I had recovered the surgeon came back and told me that she had found Endo in my Bowel, Bladder, Uterus, Ovaries, Fallopian Tubes and Pouch of Douglas. But I only had stage one, which isn’t a lot and not very deep, which sounds like it shouldn’t hurt as much as it did but with Endo, the amount of pain doesn’t determine how much you have. You could have a lot of deep Endo and barely be in any pain and vice versa.
For about a year after my surgery, I was relatively pain-free and then the pain started to come back, so in January 2016 I had another laparoscopy and I was mostly pain-free for another year. Last year the pain started to come back again.
Pain isn’t the only symptom of Endo, these are just a few of the long list of symptoms that can affect a woman with this condition. Over the years I have tried many tablets, most forms of contraception (to stop periods) and two surgeries, these things have worked for a while and then stopped working. Not only do you get the symptoms of Endo, you get the side effects of the medications too.
-1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK suffer from endometriosis, 10% of women worldwide- that’s 176 million!
-Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK.
-On average it takes 7.5 years from onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis.
A few weeks ago, a new book was written by Endometriosis UK and 2 Doctors (who actually know what they’re talking about!), I’m currently reading this book and so far its very helpful (I will do a full review when i’m finished reading!)
Endometriosis: The Experts’ Guide to Treat, Manage and Live Well with Your Symptoms
I hope that any woman that reads this, that has been diagnosed with Endo knows that they are not alone, chronic illness’ can be very lonely but supportive family and friends will help you through the worst!
Endometriosis-uk.org. (2018). Understanding Endometriosis | Endometriosis UK. [online] Available at: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/understanding-endometriosis [Accessed 13 Mar. 2018].
Endometriosis-uk.org. (2018). Endometriosis Facts and Figures | Endometriosis UK. [online] Available at: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/endometriosis-facts-and-figures [Accessed 13 Mar. 2018].