A complex word for an equally complex condition – one that is frequently overlooked and affects 1 in 10 women in the UK alone. Yes – that many. It shouldn’t have to be complex, however, when it comes to recognising the signs & symptoms of the condition and how to get a diagnosis.
As a sufferer of ‘Endo’, it took five years for me to be properly diagnosed after having been back and forth to the docs. Only to be told that I must have a “low pain threshold” (erm… wtf?) and that things would settle down.
Not once was I told that passing out from pain, severe nausea and sickness, as well as heavy and incredibly painful periods were not normal and I was actually experiencing some of the many and varied symptoms of Endometriosis. I know so many women with this condition right now and that’s mostly because I talk about it, often, and now so do they – but we aren’t talking enough.
The mission: to change this unspoken taboo and spread some important awareness for your gynae health.
Endo what now?
Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial cells lining the womb migrate to other parts of 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 as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
It is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility and fatigue, bowel and bladder problems. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Every month our bodies goes through hormonal changes. These hormones are naturally released, which cause the lining of the womb to increase in preparation for a fertilized egg. If pregnancy does not occur this lining will break down and bleed. This is then released from the body as a period.
Endometrial cells, like the ones in the lining of the womb, grow elsewhere in the body. These cells react to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleed. However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body. This can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
Endometriosis can have a huge impact on a woman’s life in a number of ways, including:
- Chronic pain
- Fatigue/lack of energy
- Problems with a couple’s sex life/relationships
- An inability to conceive
- Difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments
However, with the right treatment many of these issues can be addressed, and the symptoms of endometriosis made more manageable. If you can relate to any of this see your G.P and insist in it being explored further with tests. You aren’t imagining it ladies, and it is your right to have these symptoms investigated and taken seriously.
Endometriosis affects each sufferer in a different way – each varying from different intensities and stages. You need to find the right plan of action that suits you and your personal condition.
For more detailed information on causes, symptoms, treatment options & support, check out the Endometriosis UK charity.
So why is there such a lack of awareness? Well the p word tends to cause chaos at the best of times despite it being one of the most natural (if annoying) things to happen to a woman. But telling your boss, partner, friends and family exactly what Endometriosis is and having to say it revolves around your period tends to be embarassing, not only for you but for the people you are telling, so it’s easier to avoid the subject and suffer in silence, right?… Wrong!
It’s a condition that happens to affect your reproductive organs and it’s not your fault. So why feel awkward about talking about it if it means someone can help support you or even cut you some slack? You might even have a Need-To-Know situation on your hands – the average Endo sufferer will have to take an average of 55 days per annum off sick from work. If my daughter ends up suffering from the condition, I know I want her to feel strong and confident enough to speak up about it and have her voice heard. I want her to have choices and to not feel embarassed about something she can’t control.
I am very lucky to have conceived both my two children before 30; which was the advised medical deadline I was given to try and get pregnant with my particular situation. I suffer on a weekly basis with symptoms. Sometimes that means I miss work, social events, date nights with my partner or I simply can’t function 100% throughout my day without Endo controlling it. This is something I’ve found a lot of people, including some workplaces and friends, can’t seem to understand is out of my control. I’m made to feel shit because I’m a ‘let down’. Thanks peeps. Just what I needed. It’s the last thing you want to be thought of. When you’re punished enough with the pain and unpredictability of the condition, it’s no wonder we aren’t talking about it.
Making a negative into a spangly positive
I needed to do something that made me feel better about all this. Something that’s fun, sends a clear message and is an excuse for a big party. The Miss Trout’s Charity Ball For Endometriosis became the best way for me to express this. I am fundraising and hosting a charity ball where sparkly dresses and red lips are encouraged. And swanky tuxes too. It features a live band, raffles/auctions and heaps of info on the condition, as well as the support networks available. Beautiful people raising money for a beautiful cause. Sweet!
What can you do?
If you take anything away from this, share the symptoms and talk. Talk about Endometriosis. Make this condition a heard one instead of a silent one. You may have it, your best friend may have it, your work colleague may have it, your girlfriend may have it. Let’s speak up and be proud of our bits ladies. The condition sucks, but we don’t.
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