I discovered the other day that March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and after reading about it, decided I should write something about it to spread the awareness because although it is a thing I have heard of, I didn’t really know anything about it.
I know people who suffer with it, but I’ve never thought to ask about it – asking people about their illnesses always feels awkward somehow – and I’d never really put any effort into researching it either. Mostly because I’m forgetful and I think ‘I should look that up when I get home’ and then by the time I get home I’ve seen something shiny and got distracted.
I remembered this time!
Endometriosis is a disease that can affect women of all ages (it can occur as soon as periods begin or develop any time after) and has even been recorded in men!
It affects an estimated 1 in 10 women which really surprised me – I hadn’t realised it was that common. I probably know even more people who suffer from it than I realise. There are probably a lot of people who don’t realise they suffer from it at all.
But what actually is it?
To quote the NHS website: ‘Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (the endometrium) is found outside the womb.’
This tissue can be found in all sorts of places from the ovaries and fallopian tubes or outside of the womb to the lining of the abdomen, the bowel, the bladder and in some more unusual cases even places like the lungs, liver or spine!
The problem with this tissue is quite obvious when you think about it – when the lining of the womb does its end-of-cycle thing, it exits the body via the convenient nearby exit – but when this happens in one of the other places in the body, there is nowhere for it to go. So they thicken, contract, cramp up and then shed… and get stuck wherever they happen to be.
This obviously causes discomfort, but can cause quite a lot of chaos in the body as well – the resulting scar tissue can even pull organs out of place in some cases.
Symptoms most commonly felt by Endometriosis sufferers include:
- Painful and/or heavy periods
- Chronic pain in the pelvic/lower back area
- Pain during/after sex
- Bleeding between periods
- Fertility issues
- Extra long periods
There are also many other symptoms, depending on where the tissue develops in the body, and some people don’t have any symptoms at all.
There is no cure for Endometriosis – it can be managed and surgery can be performed to remove patches of tissue that are causing issues – but it is a chronic condition that you just have to learn to live with. Some people only feel symptoms during their periods, others feel them all the time. It is just the luck of the draw.
I hadn’t realised just how common Endometriosis was, or how horrible it can be – if you want to know more, then you can look at the NHS Choices section about it or check out this website ‘Bloomin’ Uterus’ which is written by someone who suffers from Endometriosis and posts regularly about it. It is very informative and provides lots of information about how it feels and what to expect when approaching a doctor about it etc.
Please share this post, write your own or share other links and information throughout March to help raise awareness of the condition – it all happens in the kind of area people don’t like to talk about so it might just stop somebody from suffering in silence thinking that their pain is ‘normal’ and just battling on.