Endometriosis – the Little Known Disease Affecting up to 10% of Women
Do you frequently suffer from extremely painful cramps that over-the-counter medications cannot deal with them? Do you suffer from fatigue and bloating? If so, you might be one of the 10% of women who suffer from endometriosis.
Long story short, endometriosis is when the cells of the uterus lining grow outside the uterus, usually in the pelvic region (e.g., behind the uterus, on the bladder, on the ovaries etc.). It is a chronic disease, but many women never discover the reason behind their severely painful periods or their infertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis
- Pain! Period pain, ovulation pain, during sex, when having a bowel movement or passing urine etc.
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal bloating
- Heavy or irregular periods
These are the symptoms that doctors usually look for, but endometriosis may also be seen through symptoms such as:
- Getting sick often
- Other immune disorders (such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis etc.)
and many more.
The only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is through a laparascopy (“keyhole” surgery).
There is no cure, even having a hysterectomy does not guarantee a painfree life. The doctors can ease the pain through pain medication, and give hormone treatment to try to control the disease. During laparascopies the doctor can laser, cut or burn away the endometrial implants which can also give relief for a while. A lot of women also feel better when changing their diets and cutting out sugar, refined carbs, red meat, gluten (especially wheat), dairy products and artificial additives.
I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis back in September 2010, but that was only the culmination of 7 years of doctor visits.
I’ve had painful periods for as long as I can remember, but they started getting a lot worse when I was 16-17 years old, the doctor put me on the pill which helped for several years (as it puts endometriosis in “sleep mode”). However when I was 21 I started getting migraines with aura, and was no longer allowed to take the normal pill, because it has estrogen in it (which coupled with migraine with aura increases the chance of stroke). After stopping the pill my periods became even more painful. I would spend at least 2-3 days in bed every month, because of period pains, I experienced pain and discomfort around ovulation, I was tired all the time, felt dizzy on most days, struggled with allergies (which only began developing when I was 12-13 years old, and which have gotten progressively worse over the years), I would feel bloated, get nauseous and seemed to catch every bug going around.
The first time I went to see a gynecologist I was so relieved to find that I didn’t have endometriosis… or so I was told, later I found out that it’s not possible to diagnose endometriosis solely through a pelvic exam. After seeing several more doctors and not getting any results, I was finally lucky enough to get an OB/GYN who actually knew about endometriosis. After keeping a calendar over my periods and pain they thought it likely to be endometriosis, I was referred for a laraposcopy. During the surgery I also got a hormonal IUD
(the Mirena), it took a while for my body to get used to it, but since then it has been a life-saver. I haven’t had a period in a year, and my cramps are down to a minimum.
Do you or anyone you know suffer from endometriosis or another chronic, invisible disease? How do you cope with it?
- Posted in: Health
- Tagged: allergies, chronic disease, Conditions and Diseases, dizziness, Dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, Environmental Science & Technology, Health, hysterectomy, immune disorders, laparascopy, Lupus, nausea, ovulation pain, pain, pain during sex, pelvic region, period pain, rheumatoid arthritis, Symptom, Uterus, Women's health