Endometriosis awareness month takes place globally during the month of March in order to increase the awareness of the condition. This condition is particularly important to me, not only because it affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide, but because I am currently under investigation for having it myself.
What is it?
Endometriosis is a condition which causes the tissues similar to the lining of the womb to grow in other places outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and around the pelvis. It takes an average of 8 years to be diagnosed with the condition!
I’ll just list a few….
Pain! Pain in the stomach, back and radiating down the legs. This pain can often interfere with normal daily tasks and doesn’t occur just when a woman is on her period, it is present most days.
Heavy, irregular periods that tend to last longer than ‘normal’ periods. Also, bleeding in between periods.
Tiredness/fatigue due to the immune system working hard to try to combat the endometriosis.
Analgesia, hormone medications and contraceptives, laparoscopies, hysterectomy, GnRH analogues. The treatment will vary from person to person. What works on some might not be effective to another. The most challenging thing I have found is trying another type of treatment and having to wait for a few months to give it a chance only for it not to work and then be back at square one a few more months down the line.
I began visiting my GP about severe period pain just before my GCSEs (2015). I tried two different combined pills but both didn’t work for me due to non-stop bleeding.
It wasn’t until I started my first placement in November 2017 that I decided to try again. I was really struggling doing 12.5 hour shifts when I was in so much pain, the pain was stopping me from going to the gym, going into uni and just completing daily tasks. I was given another combined pill to try for a minimum of 3 months. I then experienced my first migraines! Migraines on top of the pain was even worse but I continued for the 3 months to give it a shot. After those 3 months (February 2018), my GP swapped me to the mini pill (progestogen-only) for another 3 months. I bled for 3 months!
I decided not to have the implant which was offered to me as I knew that if my body did react in the same way as it did to the pills, it wouldn’t be so easy to remove. My GP agreed so I was referred to a gynaecologist (June 2018).
I chose my gynaecologist as I worked with him in during my theatre placement and after seeing him care for his patients I knew I would trust him to look after me! There was a waiting list so I wasn’t seen for 5 months (November 2018) but during my first consultation we decided to go ahead with an IUS and I had the Mirena coil inserted in February 2019.
I was warned that most people have it removed fairly quickly as it is common to experience bleeding and pain for the first few months, however, I was advised to try to give it 6 months to settle down. I still have it in place but, I’ll be honest, it hasn’t made much of a difference and I did suffer for the first few months!
When I last saw my consultant in January 2020, we discussed the next option. I have decided not to try the GnRH agonist therapy (induces a menopause-like state) due to my age and the risk of infertility. So the next option is a laparoscopy which I am still undecided about!
If anyone has any questions or wants to know more, I am always available over on my Instagram or Facebook page!