Endometriosis: The pain of being a woman
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, launched by the Endometriosis Association in 1993.
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It’s something people don’t like to talk about in open company, but it is something which regularly invades my world and removes me from reality because I become bedridden.
Endometriosis has disrupted my life. Every now and again when I am on my period, I experience abdominal and spinal pain, but my mood swings and nausea get to the point where I don’t drink water as often as I should or eat supper because of fear that I will throw up.
This is also a time where I am highly self-conscious because I usually have a heavy flow that I always need to look out for and make sure I don’t leave traces of it on anything I sit on.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, launched by the Endometriosis Association in 1993. It’s now observed worldwide through activities such as education, fundraising and marches. The awareness month is symbolised by a yellow ribbon. The condition affects one in 10 women a year.
In an article written by Abdul Wadood Mohamed and medically reviewed by Dr Valinda Riggins Nwadike, endometriosis is described as a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.
The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium.
Mohamed explained how the condition is formed: “Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows on your ovaries, bowel and tissues lining your pelvis.
It’s unusual for endometrial tissue to spread beyond your pelvic region, but it’s not impossible.
“Endometrial tissue growing outside of your uterus is known as an endometrial implant.”
The most common symptoms are discomfort with bowel movements, painful periods and cramps around menstruation.
Ever since my teenage years, I have experienced debilitating period pains.
The last straw for me to seek medical help from my gynaecologist (who later diagnosed me with endometriosis) was when I was in high school. The doctor used an abdominal ultrasound as an additional step for him to be sure that I suffered from the condition. The period pains I experienced were so bad I could not walk or sit up straight and anything I ate was followed to a dreaded trip to the toilet.
Looking back, I really wish my sexual health teachers had spoken more about such conditions. Growing up, I have always thought menstruation had to be extremely painful as it was simply “part of the process”.
I still suffer from the condition, but I can manage it with prescription tablets and painkillers and don’t need surgery – yet. Another weird observation is how my cycles differ. One month I feel like ripping out my uterus and the next, I forget that I suffer from endometriosis.
It’s extremely important for women to pay attention to their bodies and visit their gynaecologists as often as they can, as this will help them take better care of themselves.
Lastly, to all my endometriosis worriers, I know it is difficult coping with this painful condition while trying your best to be a daughter, friend or parent, but you are not alone and deserve comfort while navigating through life with endometriosis.
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