Today I’m bringing something so completely different to this blog and I hope it will be received well because it’s something extremely personal and so close to my heart.
Today is the second day of National Endometriosis Awareness week and I thought today was a great day to write a post about Endometriosis and how it effected me. I’ve had this blog for nearly three years now and I’ve never mentioned this condition that I’ve suffered from for pretty much my whole life.
It feels awkward and weird to randomly bring this subject up and pile it on top of my other posts without really having an opening for this topic. But there never really seems like a good time to bring it up and although this week is National Endometriosis Awareness week it still feels so strange to put my hand up and say I’m an Endometriosis sufferer.
Endometriosis really doesn’t receive the attention that it really deserves and I wanted to put this out there for young girls and woman who suffer from heavy painful periods and other symptoms that could mean you have Endometriosis. To make people aware and for people to know they are not alone.
“Endometriosis (pronounced end – oh – mee – tree – oh – sis) 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.
Every month your body goes through hormonal changes. You naturally release hormones which cause the lining of the womb to increase in preparation for a fertilised egg. If pregnancy does not occur, this lining will break down and bleed. The blood is then released from your body as a period.
Endometriosis cells react in the same way – except that they are located outside your womb. During your monthly cycle your hormones stimulate the endometriosis, causing it to grow, then break down and bleed. This internal bleeding, unlike a period, has no way of leaving the body. This leads to inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue (adhesions). Endometrial tissue can also be found in the ovary, where it can form cysts, called ‘chocolate cysts’ because of their appearance.
Endometriosis is not an infection.
Endometriosis is not contagious.
Endometriosis is not cancer.
The actualcause of endometriosis is unknown.There are several theories, but none fully explains why the condition occurs.
Some women experience symptoms while others do not. The symptoms of endometriosis can vary in intensity.
Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
Pain during or after sex
Problems on opening bowels
The amount of endometriosis does not always correspond to the amount of pain and discomfort. A small amount of endometriosis can be more painful than severe disease. It depends, largely, where the endometriosis is actually growing inside the body.
All of the symptoms above may have other causes. It is important to seek medical advice to clarify the cause of any symptoms you may experience. If your symptoms change after diagnosis it is important to discuss these changes with a medical practitioner. It is easy to attribute all your problems to endometriosis but it may not always be the cause of your symptoms.
Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis. The different treatments available aim to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life for a woman living with the condition.
The type of treatment should be decided in partnership between her and her healthcare professional. The decision about which treatment to choose should depend on several factors:
The individual circumstances of the woman
The severity of her symptoms
Her desire to have children
The severity of the disease
The treatments currently available can help by relieving pain symptoms; shrinking or slowing endometriosis growth; preserving or restoring fertility; or preventing/delaying the recurrence of the disease.” (Information provided by Endometriosis UK)
Treatments for Endometriosis can vary but the main treatments can be pain management, hormones, surgery and nutrition.
I am an endometriosis sufferer, I was diagnosed with the possibility of having endo back in 2005, after suffering from painful periods from the age of 12 and trying many different types of the pill to help the symptoms. It wasn’t until I saw a wonderful (female) Dr at my home town surgery that she got the ball rolling for me and referred me to a gynaecologist at the hospital and helped me along the way dealing with the pain. I’m extremely thankful to this Dr for helping me to get referred because without her help I have no idea where I’d be today.
My periods were so heavy and painful I struggled to even get to the bathroom never mind have a normal life, at that young age; I lost friends because they were sick of me cancelling on them and being ill as they didn’t understand what I was going through. I spent most of 2005 going through test after test, being prodded and poked, given different types of drugs that did nothing for me that I thought it would never get better. It wasn’t until September 2006 when I went for a laparotomy that confirmed I did indeed have endometriosis. I was very lucky that it only took me a year to get confirmation about my disease. I then spent two years trying different things to help the pain I was in. The first was and is the most effective for me was the Depo-Provera injection that I was on for nearly a year and a half which worked really well for me then I had 6 months of painful injections in my stomach to induce a fake menopause to try and combat the endo, sadly (or rather happily for me because you should have seen this needle! It had to be big and thick to go through the skin on my stomach and needles don’t bother me but this thing was just huuuuge and scary!) it stopped working and I went back onto the Depo-Provera injection.
In November 2008 I finally got laser surgery to remove all the diseased sections of endo that were attacking my body. It was possibly the worst and best experience of my life. The worst because I was the worst case the surgeon had ever seen at the time and the endo had spread quite badly and had started attacking my bowel and there were complications during the surgery which meant I took longer to heal and had to spend a long amount of time in the hospital than originally planned. However, when I had healed I had never felt better in my entire life. I stayed on the Depo-Provera injection and got on with my life, moved to the other side of the country with my boyfriend and went back to University, half aware that it could take a year to 5 years before the endo could come back again.
Sadly, my story doesn’t end there on a brilliantly happy note. In May 2010 I started having stomach cramps and feeling ill again. I went to my University G.P being afraid that the endo had come back; I went through a zillion tests (ok more like 3 or 5) and finally was told I had IBS which can happen with woman who suffer from endo. Since then I’ve been dealing with upset stomachs and stomach cramps but I’ve been managing. I’ve been on the Depo-Provera injection for about 8 years and it’s helped me immensely. This coming winter however, I’ve made the decision to come off the depo-provera injection to a) see how my body is doing after 6 years of surgery and 8 years on the injection and b) because in another year or two we want to try for a baby and well it can take up to two years for the depo-provera to leave your system and I’d rather know now if I’m able to live with my periods again or not.
At the end of this experience, I’m thankful for living in the UK and being able to get the healthcare I need without having to pay a fortune. I’m thankful for my Mum who pushed and pushed and pushed to help me get the surgery and the help I needed. I’m thankful I had an amazing Dad who looked after me when I couldn’t go to school, college or University. Who gave me hot water bottles and made me cups of tea. That he’d spend two hours driving to pick me up from University because I was in tears with the pain and couldn’t look after myself. I’m thankful to a friend who lived with me for a year and put up with my situation and was there for me when I wasn’t at my best and never judged me. Lastly I’m thankful to my amazing, brilliant Fiancée, Ryan who bought me painkillers, tampons, hot water bottles (and cold ones!) dealt with my tears, frustrations and bitchyness I don’t know a guy who’d do that for his girl nearly right from the start of a relationship! He’s been constantly there for me for over 8 years now and I’m extremely grateful to have his help and support.
Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK, affecting 1 in 10 women, yet 80 % of the population have never even heard of it. Due to this staggering lack of awareness, many women put up with their symptoms for years, believing them to be ‘normal’. As well as pain, endometriosis can cause infertility. If you suffer from painful, heavy or irregular periods, bowel problems, or it hurts when you have sex, you could have endometriosis!
Thank you all for taking your time to read this and becoming aware of Endometriosis. I hope you’ll remember this information and pass it along to your friends and families so more people are aware of this condition!