“Endometriosis is a progressive long-term chronic condition that can significantly impact a woman’s physical and emotional health as well as her daily routine. Often mistaken for just menstrual symptoms, this pain can stop a woman from doing normal activities.”— Women, Living with Endometriosis
I don’t think many people are aware of Endometriosis and the chaos that it can bring to a woman’s life. There’s the countless physician office appointments, sometimes emergency room visits, multitude of tests, procedures, misdiagnoses, and then after you’re completely exhausted and emotionally scarred, there is surgery to confirm its existence.
I’ve been playing tag with Endometriosis since I was a teen. The exact cause of this silent condition/disease is unknown. So I will share my unfortunate experience and knowledge of Endometriosis.
Please note this is all just my opinions and provided to me over the years. Should you need medical attention or advice please consult your physician.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a silent and invisible condition. Often mistaken as just run of the mill PMS symptoms, it is internally extremely painful. Imagine giving birth naturally for about 2-3 weeks out of each month. It is just that bad but no one would know but physically there is nothing to indicate that this condition exits to the human eye. Medically defined: Endometriosis occurs when tissue that appears and functions like the lining of the uterus (where babies are baked) grow outside the uterus (where the rest of our vital organs reside). Often times, this tissue will grow on the:
- fallopian tubes
- ligaments that support the uterus
- surface of the uterus
What are the signs & symptoms?
One huge and most common sign of Endometriosis is stupid painful menstrual cramps. The reason why it is more painful than a normal period is because the growths that have formed outside of the uterus swell and bleed along with the menstrual cycle. Unlike in your uterus, this growths blood has nowhere to go and it gets trapped wherever it is residing. This causes irritation of the surrounding areas, which in turn causes the extreme pain. But it doesn’t just stop there. Over time this irritation turns into scarring. There are a bunch more symptoms of endometriosis and if you are experiencing any, take charge of your health and demand your doctor find the answer. Endometriosis is life altering. Other symptoms include:
- bowel issues (pain or bleeding with bowel movements, constipation and diarrhea)
- extreme pelvic and/or back pain
- heavy periods
- large clots
- pain with urination and sex
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed and Treated?
Receiving a diagnosis of the condition can sometimes be extremely hard. Many doctors will see you, ask repetitive questions, complete a pelvic exam, order ultrasounds and sometimes even an MRI scan.
The first thing a doctor does when you begin to complain about the pain and the fact that this is much different than just normal period pain is to prescribe a pain reliever such as Naproxen or Ibuprofen and sometimes hormonal birth control. The hormones in the birth control decreases bleeding and is thought to ease the pain. This is true for some women. For me, it was not. As a hormone sensitive woman, I experienced every side effect birth control had to offer. Talk about a nightmare walking.
When symptoms do not improve and the pain persists with the treatment put in place by the doctor, this may be the time that laparoscopic surgery is recommended. Laparoscopy is thought to be one of the most effective ways to treat endometriosis because during the surgery, the growths that are causing the pain can be removed. After surgery most women, experience substantially less pain. But do note that surgery is not a CURE. I was one of the women that after almost a year and a half of doctor visits, ER trips and pain, I agreed to the surgery. The surgery seemed to have solved my infertility problem, it also stopped the pain and heavy bleeding. And now at 16 years post surgery, the pain is back and worse than it was before. In between the time that I had the surgery, I also used hormonal birth control after pregnancy to help control any pain and prevent the endometriosis from getting worse. Since having my Implanon removed from my arm, birthing a second child and experiencing all the wonderfully terrible side effects that hormonal birth control has to offer, I switched to a non hormonal method – Paragard IUD. For the last 2 years, it has been great. Until this year. The pain came out of nowhere. Hit me like a deer on a speed train tracks. It took a couple of doctor visits and then one ER visit and a consult to have confirmation that my endometriosis is back.
The Pain!!! What Can I Do?
To help relieve the pain (which I dare not refer to as period pain, as this pain can occur before you menstrual cycle begins as well as after it ends) I live by these items:
- Balanced Diet
- Increased Water Consumption
It is extremely hard to describe to those close to you what your condition is, the severity of it and how it truly impacts your life. It is very hard for anyone to gauge your pain or even understand physically and emotionally what you endure. Just know that you’re not alone. And if you feel like no one else cares just know this crazy blog lady does…💛