If I was someone who got a physical checkup and pap smear regularly, I don’t think I’d have half the health scares I’ve had. I’m not entirely clued up on a lot of health tips but having endometriosis has really taught me a ton of things I was unaware of. A friend of mine sent me a video she took while visiting me in hospital back in 2016 and it just reminded me of how terrible that year was for me health wise. For the longest time, dating back to when I first started my period, I always had the most gruesome period pain. I know a lot of women can relate to this, but it always seemed as though mine were not your regular period pain.
I always dreaded that time of the month because I knew my period pain would start 2 – 3 days before I even got my actual period – that’s how bad it was. I then started seeing a gynaecologist and that’s when trouble started. It would be a different diagnosis every other time – first it’s a bladder infection, then it’s my fallopian tube being blocked, and just when I think I can catch a break it’s a surprise ovarian cyst. I was really struggling when it came to anything to do with my uterus or ovaries and it really worried me, especially because of how costly all the medication was.
At some point I decided to try a new gynaecologist because I felt like I was not getting any better. I had a few general doctors suggest that it might be endometriosis but I didn’t really pay any attention to it because I knew nothing about it and I had never heard of it before and I guess I just took a “what you don’t know won’t kill you” approach. It was only after my gynaecologist suggested I undergo an operation (laparoscopy) that I really started to take this endometriosis seriously. Knowing that I’d have to undergo surgery really got me thinking “well damn, this is serious huh?”. After reading up on endometriosis I realised how low-key it was in our society.
I underwent my surgeries and after finding out that I indeed do have endometriosis, it really gave my heart some peace. No one wants to have a chronic illness – but knowing what was going on was such a relief for me. I was able to get the right medication and I have been doing very well ever since. However, I do feel like endometriosis is still such a low-key condition, not many women are aware of what it is and how it can affect your reproductive system in the long run. The entire experience has made me so passionate about women’s health, and so I’m here again to share more about endometriosis and I’m hoping someone will read this and relate and get the relevant help sooner than I did.
What is endometriosis?
First things first, it’s pronounced “en-doe-me-tree-O-sis” (whew) and it’s not deadly, however it is incurable. All in all, you won’t die but you won’t get rid of it either lol! Endometriosis is a painful disorder whereby the tissue that normally lines the INSIDE of your uterus – the endometrium – grows OUTSIDE of your uterus. And even though it’s a disorder in the uterus, it also involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue which lines the pelvis.
image by HonorHealth.com
Here’s the thing, just because tissue is displaced does not mean its function stops, hence the pain every time you go on your period. The displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would – it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle but because it’s not where it should be, it cannot exit the body and it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated by this and cause further complications such as organs sticking together.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
- Pelvic pain, which is the most common symptom and is only experience with your menstrual cycle (hence the terrible period pain I experienced).
- Painful periods, and I know lot of women who don’t have endometriosis but experience period pain and I don’t want to invalidate their experience however, this type of period pain is severe. It can begin several days before your period and extend several days into your period.
- Back and abdominal pain.
- Pain during intercourse, now I know I’m not one to speak on this because I don’t have any personal experience but I’ve done a lot of research and asked many questions and this is one of the top symptoms.
- Pain with urination or bowel movements, now I never have any pain when I urinate but wait till I’m my period boy oh boy!
- Excessive bleeding.
- Infertility, a lot of women only find out they have endometriosis after trying for a child and having to undergo treatment.
- Fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and nausea are also symptoms but don’t rely are them because they are also very general.
Endometriosis is often mistaken for other conditions and it can take a long time to come to a diagnosis.
What are the risk factors of having endometriosis?
- Never giving birth
- Starting your period at an early age
- Low body mass
- Alcohol consumption
- Uterine abnormalities
- Going through menopause early
- High levels of oestrogen
On my next post, I’ll be sharing the causes and complications of having endometriosis. Endometriosis can be a very challenging condition to live with and also manage. There are stages to this condition and the earlier your diagnosis, the better management your symptoms.
Just as you maintain everything else in your life, you should also maintain your greatest gift – your body. That means listening to what it needs and feels and responding. Let’s start with this, the next time you want to book a nail appointment – rather book a pap smear.
Yours in Health,