In the last ten years or so, I’ve talked more about my fertility issues than I have my endometriosis and I thought since March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and we have a few days of March left, that it was a good time to touch on it… especially considering my fertility issues are directly related to endometriosis.
I recently wrote about how and when I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis as part of the #SayTheFWord Campaign with Celmatix but I don’t think I’ve ever shared what it’s like actually living with it year after year, month after painful month.
I know it sounds odd considering I’ve lived with this dis-ease for nearly twenty years, but up until recently, I simply dismissed my symptoms as mental apparitions or blamed anxiety and/or stress or even something I ate in order to “figure out” what’s going on.
When chatting with Diane it occurred to me that I didn’t have concrete answers to many of her questions and I think that’s what stood out to me the most. Here we are, in a time when one in TEN women is affected by endometriosis yet we still do not have any real process to determine a diagnosis of it AND woman are still living in pain for so many years before being diagnosed – AND THERE IS NO REAL REMEDY OR CURE!
I was 30 when I was told and it was by accidentally scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist simply because she was the closest doctor to my house! Diana didn’t find out until she was 31! So this seems to be the norm and it’s frightening to think how long girls and women are living with these horrible symptoms (as I did) for so long without being diagnosed or treated.
And what’s worse, is that though many of use suffer from similar symptoms (some even worse than mine), it’s still a complete guess as to how to sooth them each month. Why has there not been more research in the area of women’s health and fertility when a woman’s body is the means through which we populate this planet? You’d think, with that kind of power, we would get some sort of priority in the medical arena!
If I had known sooner, I would have taken action toward my future fertility, I wouldn’t have been so confused month after month as to why my periods were so severe, and I would have had an answer to those people who dismissed my pain and suffering entirely by blaming PMS or attention-seeking by “being so dramatic” or telling me it was all in my head. The way we silently suffer and still have to manage our daily lives, jobs, families, etc., is a testament to how strong women are.
Though there is no cure (YET), having a diagnosis at least, if anything, helps us understand our bodies a bit better, know what to expect (kind of) each month, and have a little peace of mind.
My Monthly Symptoms // Some Worse Than Others
- Extremely painful periods
- Dull constant ache in my right ovary after period and through ovulation (lasting at least a week -sometimes longer) that begins over my right ovary, goes up and over my hip bone, down the middle of my right butt cheek and then in the front of my thigh and back of my hamstring and sometimes into my calf muscle
- Painful sex, almost always
- Major bloating
- Constant lower back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Tailbone pain
- Spotting between periods and irregular periods
- Exhaustion before/during/after period
- Stomach upsets and IBS – ( prior to my Laparascopic surgery back in my ’20s )
- Sometimes extremely painful bowel movements
- Random shooting, stabbing, pinching type pains around the ovaries that nearly take my breath away and double me over in pain – but last seconds only
- Ovarian cysts (surgically removed in 2007 – which did decrease many intense symptoms but not all of them and absolutely cured nothing)
Diet seems to help with symptoms slightly – but not always. I’ve noticed that higher sugar and chocolate intake (which I crave like crazy around my period probably because I’m so exhausted) have made all the symptoms WORSE, and I’ve noticed a lot less stomach upset and pain around my period when I don’t indulge in so much sugar and chocolate. I also am on a 5lb sliding scale and it seems when my weight is slightly lower, my symptoms are lessened as well, but it’s a complete guess, it could also have to do with a handful of other scenarios as well because 3-5lb shouldn’t really make a difference in anything at all except maybe how tight my jeans fit.
When my diet consists of tons of leafy greens, eggs, and fiber, and I also get more regular (daily) physical exercise including slow stretching and yoga, my symptoms decrease, so a healthy lifestyle definitely helps, but doesn’t cure it. I’ve found that my most difficult endo periods are usually around the season change months. It may sound strange, but each seasonal transition I find myself curled up on the couch with pain and exhaustion for longer than average.
* Here’s a comprehensive article on endo symptoms and treatments, as well as diet tips
* Find more in Tia Mowry’s endometriosis diet cookbook: Whole New You: How Real Food Transforms Your Life, for a Healthier, More Gorgeous You
Even though we need far more awareness about endometriosis so as to protect and save more women from having to suffer as well and possible early detection to prevent fertility issues, there is a lot more talk about it now than there was even ten years ago when I first shared my struggle with it.
If your periods feel at any point excessive or more painful than you can take and over the counter meds don’t always ease the pain, go to a fertility specialist, not just a regular doctor for your checkups. Ask for an inner sonogram or to be tested for endo or any other abnomailties. I have never had an abnormal pap, so many regular doctors have had no other reason to believe anything was wrong with me and do further testing. Trust your intuition… if you feel something is not quite right, force the issue and ask for more testing.
Below is a list of great resources for Endometriosis
* My Endometriosis Team offers support via a social network for women living with endometriosis.
* 16 Endometriosis Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Prognosis // This article is very informative, but feels slightly condescending especially when it states ” Most women with endometriosis have no symptoms.” because I have yet to meet a woman who has endo and does not have any symptoms! Still, informative though.
* Halsey spoke out about her Endometriosis at the Annual Blossom Ball (which I was invited to, but unfortunately could not attend)