*Trigger warning- blood*
Less than five years ago I hadn’t even heard of Endometriosis, let alone know I was suffering from it. With it affecting over 2 million people, you’d think we would all know about it but unfortunately, we don’t.
In the past couple of years, the conversation around Endometriosis has slowly been getting louder, causing more awareness. Most recently Molly Mae told her 1.5 million followers that she had been diagnosed with it. But as awareness grows, there is still a huge lack of understanding of what the condition actually is, with many just thinking it’s a bit of a ‘bad period’.
So, what actually is Endometriosis? To put it simply: it is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb (like your period blood basically) starts to grow in other places where it’s not supposed to, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Each month this tissue behaves in the same way as your period does, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike your period however, this blood has no way to escape so it continues to cling to areas it shouldn’t, causing inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue that can lead to a range of other problems.
Tissue building up in places it shouldn’t causes a lot of different problems and various symptoms for the sufferer.
I have always suffered extreme period pains and never thought much of it. I just thought I had a bad period, a low pain threshold and it was something I would have to endure as a woman. From the age of 12 I had extreme pain and heavy bleeding, and when my mum took me to a doctor, I was told this was normal and I was prescribed the pill.
I remember distinctly the moment I knew something wasn’t right. I must have been around 14 years old. I woke up to get ready for school – I had bled through overnight, so sorted myself out and started to get ready. While wearing a tampon and pad, I had bled through onto my bedroom chair in less than an hour at the age of 14. I went back to the doctor and was told that this was normal, and was prescribed a different pill hoping it would minimize symptoms.
These early symptoms I encountered are just the tip of the iceberg of the endless other symptoms that come with Endometriosis. These include but are not limited to:
A 2020 survey found that 58 per cent of women visited the GP more than ten times before they were diagnosed and 53 per cent went to A&E with symptoms before being diagnosed, according to an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Endometriosis. These scary statistics show how hard it is to get a diagnosis of Endometriosis, despite how common it is.
It was only until my pain became debilitating in November 2018, after I missed a month of sixth form, that my health was finally investigated fully. After going backwards and forwards to my GP, A&E, gastroenterology and gynecology, having countless tests, internal ultrasounds, swabs and a colonoscopy over the last six years I was finally believed and booked in for a laparoscopy. A Laparoscopy is used to examine the pelvic organs and to remove implants and scar tissue. This procedure is typically used for checking and treating.
There is no cure for Endometriosis and it can be difficult to treat due to the wide range of symptoms. All you can do it try to ease symptoms, stopping it interfering in daily life. Treatment is given to relieve pain, slow the growth of tissue, improve fertility and stop it returning. Treatment includes surgery such as laparoscopy, hormone treatment including the contraceptive pill and pain relief medication.
If you have stumbled across this article looking for answers, have just had a diagnosis or are in desperation with your pain, just remember you are not alone. This is 2021, the awareness has grown massively since I got my diagnosis, let alone the progress that can be achieved within the next couple of years. 10% of women suffer with Endometriosis; you really are not alone and so many others are going through the same thing.
Here are some things that helped me on my darkest days:
It could be your best friend, sister or daughter suffering and you’re seeking answers. My only advice for you is to just to be there to listen to them, advocate for them and believe them. I would have been lost without my mum through my diagnosis, she fought for me, believed me and just supported me through it all. That’s all you can really do – know all the facts and walk alongside them.
For more information surrounding Endometriosis go to https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/