Endometriosis – What’s the Big Deal?
I’m at my friends house, Anna, and she is doubled over on her bed, crying, almost hysterical, in severe pain.
She has her period.
At the time, I remember thinking that this isn’t normal. If this was typical high school drama kinda shit, I feel like I would have picked it – high school girls are pretty cynical about other high school girls displaying such behaviour.
But even I knew this wasn’t right and I believed she was in genuine pain. I remember telling her that I get pain on the first day of my period, maybe the second day, but she tells me that every period is horrific for her.
We got her a hot water bottle and left her on the bed, clinging for dear life to the only source of relief available.
Almost two decades later, I get an interesting message from Anna.
We have kept in touch over the years but we never discussed that night; maybe I didn’t even remember it until she reached out to me about this.
So let’s do it!
The women in my life
Now, as a woman, I should know what endometriosis is but I don’t. Not really.
I know that a close girlfriend of mine had troubles falling pregnant, just to go to a specialist in Sydney who diagnosed her with endometriosis.
I know that the week I took my daughter to two Wiggles concerts (because The Wiggles are life), Emma Wiggle announced that she is taking time off their tour because she has been suffering from severe endometriosis (stage 4) and needed to have surgery to treat it.
Image Credit: ABC News
I now knew that what I saw my friend Anna going through that night back in 2002, was only the beginning of her 19 year struggle with endometriosis.
But what is endometriosis?
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus, grows in other places, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries or along the pelvis.
When that lining breaks down (like the regular lining in the uterus that produces menstruation), it literally has nowhere to go. This can cause cysts, heavy periods, severe cramps – even infertility.
So basically, it’s the cherry on top of womanhood.
Some shitty endo facts
There’s no other way of saying this except to call it shitty facts, so here we go.
1 in 10 women are diagnosed with endometriosis.
1 in 10.
1 in 10.
Why do I keep repeating myself?
Dude, that’s at least 3 women on your bus every morning. That’s 20 women you walk past on your way to work. That’s at least 5 women in your life that you will know closely.
That is such a high number of women, you are guaranteed to know someone who is suffering from it.
Endometriosis is a chronic disease
And the kicker – there is no cure.
There is treatment through surgery, but mostly women get by with hot water bottles and painkillers.
Thinking to yourself, screw it, I’d just get a hysterectomy?
Nope. Not a cure.
But you heard pregnancy can cure it?
Nope. Also not a cure. So don’t bother, you’ll just end up with a kid and a chronic condition.
The only way to diagnose endometriosis is through surgical intervention
That means that a GP couldn’t diagnose Endo and many women don’t know they are suffering from it despite their best efforts to gain answers.
In fact, women are forced to take matters into their own hands and become their own experts because there is no dedicated medical professional for endometriosis.
There’s a delay of seven to 10 years in diagnosing endometriosis
Possibly because women downplay the symptoms they experience or the doctors they have seen did not know to diagnose endometriosis. Either way, 10 years of suffering without knowing why, would fucking suck.
Typical endometriosis symptoms to look out for:
Unusually intense period pain;
Pain on or around ovulation;
Bowel or bladder problems;
Heavy or irregular bleeding; and everyone’s favourite
Source: Endometriosis Australia
A message for all my ladies
Ladies, what have we learnt?
We learnt that having period pain is normal – but debilitating period pain is NOT normal!
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s perfectly normal to lay in bed for two days and take time off work every month due to crippling pain.
Not a doctor, not a boyfriend, not your mother. No one.
So if you are suffering, if any of the above symptoms sound like something you are experiencing on the regular – go get that shit checked out, girlfriend!
In Part Two, we’ll be exploring Anna’s story – which is just unbelievable. When she told me about her ongoing struggle, I couldn’t believe that anyone would put up with such pain and discomfort for such a long time, knowing there’s no cure.
Ladies take care, and if you have an endo story you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it!
Thank you for joining, take care of each other and remember – don’t be a dick!