Sunday, March 8, 2015

Endometriosis Awareness: My Story and Support for Fellow Sufferers

March 2nd-9th is know internationally as Endometriosis Awareness Week and this year I've decided to share my own experience with this affliction in hopes to help other women out there that have been diagnosed or suspect they may have it. Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells of the uterine lining, the same ones that are shed with each period, somehow escape the womb and end up attaching themselves to different areas of the body, mainly within the abdomen. Problems then arise because these cells react with menstrual hormones the same way they do inside the uterus and start to collect blood that has no way of being expelled therefor resulting in large cysts, inflammation and scar tissue that grows more and more with each period, sticking to organs and distorting their normal positions. It can become extremely painful with time and cause permanent damage if not treated.

 The current statistics say that 10% of women worldwide are living with endometriosis, thats roughly 176 million women. And the reason that raising awareness is so incredibly important is because there's still so much unknown about what causes this disease and how it can be prevented/cured. To donate to Endometriosis research please go to http://www.endometriosis-uk.org/donate there are so many easy ways to help out!  I myself suffered terribly with it for 11 years till a diagnosis was reached and sadly thats the case for most women.
See, in 2008 I became extremely ill. I withered down from 124 lbs to 103 lbs in the space of about 5 months without any change in my diet or exercise. I was very anemic, had zero energy and had terrible twisting pain in my lower abdomen which was unbearable during periods (sorry guy readers, TMI). Everyone around me was getting increasingly concerned because of my shrinking frame yet I was still in denial, mostly out of fear that it was something scary but when I actually started to feel a palpable hard object when I pressed down on my lower tummy I decided to put my fears aside and go see a doctor. They took blood and other tests which didn't ring any cancer alarms so then I was sent for an ultrasound and thats when I got my first glance at the monster that is Endometriosis. The technician pointed up at the screen as she rolled over the hard spot in my lower abdomen and a huge black oval slowly appeared. I watched her take screen measurements with her mouse...12 by 14 cm! And another golf ball sized one right next to it! These things were attached to my tiny left ovary. I was sent for surgery 3 weeks later which was supposed to be laparoscopic but the large cyst had grown too large so they had to cut me wide open. Luckily, they were able to save both ovaries and my uterus during the procedure. Five days in the hospital and a six inch scar later, I was home recuperating.

I was put on birth control which I have to take continuously for three months at a time to avoid any further cyst growth though I did have to go back into surgery a second time (laparoscopic this time, phew!) to remove the second cyst which had gone from golf ball sized to orange sized a year later. Since that last surgery I haven't had any major crisis', just a few minor period problems and for the last 2 1/2 years I've been completely all good! I still stay on the continuous birth control but now I even consider my diet when it comes to endometriosis. Some studies speculate that the hormones and antibiotics in mass produced meat can be to blame for not only endometriosis but all kinds of reproductive disorders, especially in women. And a diet high in vitamins, minerals and good fats and regular exercise can help keep symptoms at bay. Following this kind of lifestyle is the best thing to do for your health anyway so it's a win win for me!

Now, here are some quick facts about Endometriosis that definitely helped me in the beginning:

Symptoms Include:
Heavy and painful periods, twisting pain before and after periods, occasional pain during sex, tiredness, lack of energy, digestive problems, pain during vigorous exercise or ab work outs, pain when you press down on parts of your lower abdomen.

If you have more than a few of the symptoms above you should see your gynecologist asap.

- Endometriosis is not an infectious or contagious disease.

- Endometriosis can occur in females of any age or race.

- What causes endometriosis is still unknown.

- Exercises like yoga, Pilates and swimming can help alleviate pain and stress caused by endometriosis.

- Though getting pregnant might be challenging for endometriosis sufferers there are plenty of options nowadays and once you are pregnant, your endometriosis should not cause any problems.

Well I hope anyone reading this has found the information they need and if you what to learn any more please visit: http://www.endometriosis-uk.org


PJJ xx