Endometriosis – the chronic condition that no one talks about
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I began the week once again, sat in the waiting area of the hospital preparing to see my consultant. We were in a new wing of the hospital this week, with a huge flat screen TV and new magazines to distract me and the other women waiting for our appointments.
Image credit: Endometriosis UK
‘Endo’, as it’s affectionately called, affects 1.5 million women in the UK – that’s roughly one in ten women. Endometriosis happens as frequently as diabetes. So, I guarantee that you will know someone who has this. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of
When I was first diagnosed two years ago, it wasn’t a condition I had ever heard of and neither had my go-to person for advice on all things female - my mother. It would appear that I am not alone in my ignorance, and this is why March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Endometriosis is the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in 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. Symptoms include crippling pain, fatigue and depression. Many women find it impossible to hold down a job or have a normal social life. Others are left infertile. Endo isn’t just painful periods; it’s a condition in a league of its own.
This month women (and men too) have worn yellow and taken part in walks, marathons and fundraising events. There were social media posts that went viral and articles like this one, published to encourage people to talk about their condition, to find support in others and most importantly for undiagnosed women to recognise their symptoms and seek medical help.
A number of well-known women, including Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon and the American singer Halsey, as well as Emma Bunton and Katie Ford, have spoken out about the condition in an attempt to raise awareness, especially amongst young women.
Getting a diagnosis can be a huge challenge – I was told time after time that it was normal for women to be in pain, that I just had to deal with it. One ‘kind’ female doctor told me I was lucky to have paracetamol, and what did I think women in Africa could take? After each
My diagnosis came
Every woman’s treatment path will be different, but it usually involves surgery. I am preparing for my third operation in two years. But nothing can happen without a diagnosis, and leaving it too late can be devastating if you want to have children.
So please believe, that if you have pain in your lower tummy or back, period pain that stops you doing your normal activities, pain during or after sex, pain when peeing or pooing during your period, feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period or are having difficulty getting pregnant - none of this is normal, and you don’t have to ‘just get in with it’.
Go and speak to your GP about it. Don't wait. And if
If you need more help or want to read more about this condition, visit Endometriosis UK