Endometriosis Awareness Month – Nancy’s Story
We’re in March, the month of Spring, the month where nature gets brought back to life and March more importantly is Endometriosis Awareness Month, created to raise awareness for the potentially life-changing condition that affects 1 in 10 women.
Endometriosis is the condition where tissue that’s similar to the lining of the womb, begins to develop elsewhere in the body, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This means that each month just like your period, cells are building up and then bleeding whilst they break down, but the blood has no way to escape, this can cause a great deal of pain, inflammation and form scar tissue. Currently to this day, women are having to deal with this potentially incurable long-term condition so in turn Endometriosis Awareness Month was created to give those that are affected a voice and to ensure that they’re heard and not forgotten.
In this blog post we speak to Nancy (25) * who was recently diagnosed with endometriosis and wants to fight the taboo that is associated with the condition…
I was only diagnosed with endometriosis last year and it certainly wasn’t plain sailing. I started to notice that my periods were heavier than say the average woman and the pains became unbearable especially when on my period. I used to think I was overreacting as whenever I told a friend about it, they would just shrug and dismiss it as most people got period pains and it must’ve just been that, but accepting those pains just didn’t sit right with me.
I’ve always had cramps during my period, but they just seemed to get progressively worse over the years and it got to the point that the pain would get so bad I would pretty much go dizzy and faint. I think because of the stigma around period pains as such, most people just overlook it and consider it to be somewhat “normal”? Most people don’t get to hear this due to the taboo but your pain is 100% valid and just because other can’t feel what you go through, it doesn’t mean that it’s nothing to worry about or that you’re just exaggerating your pain.
The pain carried on getting worse and it started affecting my life more than I felt a period pain should have. I would use to cancel any plans for the week I was due my period because I knew I had to have a sofa nearby in case the pain became unbearable – which was more often than not. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to speak to my GP and it was a weird feeling as I almost felt ashamed and as if I would be wasting their time as maybe I was just being overdramatic? Because of that feeling, I do think I held back on telling all about what I was going through (yes, I know it was stupid) and I’m 1000% sure it just came across as if I just had these normal period pains and that was it.
I was then put on a contraceptive pill to see if that would help with the pain, so I was feeling optimistic and genuinely thought it would be done and dusted. But as I eagerly awaited my next period, the pains began again. I definitely knew I had to go back and after I did some googling (probably the worst thing to do) I read about endometriosis and its symptoms. At first, I thought oh it’s probably not this, but I knew I had to go back to my GP.
I went back to my GP and after a lot of frustrating back and forth with a CAT scan and ultrasound, the date of my laparoscopy was soon nearing. After my laparoscopy, I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis and it was almost a bittersweet moment, I was relieved that I found the root of my problem but also I was absolutely devastated to be diagnosed with an incurable condition that most people seem to know next to nothing about. I used to tell my friends and families about these pains and they would just get disregarded as I was a female and it was common to get these pains but because I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis, it didn’t mean that the pain was more legit. I won’t go into the ins and outs of what happened next but there’s definitely a long journey ahead. More importantly I want to focus on the stigma that surrounds endometriosis.
Although I went through what seemed like hell and back, I look back and think that I may have stopped overlooking it and been diagnosed and gotten help sooner if there were more people in the world that were more educated on it. I admittedly didn’t really know much about it at first, I may have heard the name here and there but never fully understood it and I guess it seemed like a condition you wouldn’t think to learn more about unless you are diagnosed with it.
Yes, you can experience some period pains worse than others but that shouldn’t make the pain any less genuine. We should be taught to speak out more about how our periods affect us and to not feel ashamed or ridiculed if you bring up the subject to friends and family and it leads to you shutting them out. It’s doesn’t just take its toll on you physically but mentally and by having support around you, you can find a great source of comfort knowing that they believe you and that they’re with you every step of the way even though they don’t fully understand.
After being diagnosed with endometriosis, I have joined a few support networks which has allowed me to speak to other girls and women that like me, suffer from the condition. I believe it is vital to coping as it allows you to share your experience and speak to someone who truly see’s where you’re coming from and understands your situation.
If you know a friend, family member or even someone you barely know suffering with endometriosis, my advice is to reach out, support them and help validate their pain. Every bit of support goes a long way, we’re not looking for you to be an expert but even trying to educate yourself on the subject can work wonders.
Endometriosis affects 10% of women worldwide and with a condition that changes so many girls and women’s lives, you’d think it would be more widely discussed. Most disappointingly, 54% of women and 74% of men don’t even know what endometriosis is! Throughout March, Endometriosis UK is relying on your support to help raise awareness. If you want to make a change and get involved, please sign up and take part in the 1 in 10 challenge and together we can #EndoTheStigma.
If you’re in need of any medical advice, please contact your GP or an endometriosis specialist.
*Name changed for privacy.