We Need to Talk About Endometriosis

1 in 10 women has endometriosis, yet it is something not many know about and even fewer talk about. Menstrual and female health is still considered a “taboo” subject even in progressing countries which results in little to no education about the subject. This is a ridiculous notion to me, considering that half the world’s population bleeds and if they didn’t, well, we wouldn’t have a population. When I grew up, like many my age, we learnt what a period was and to be careful with sex. That was it. No one taught us about cysts, birth control, endometriosis, PCOS, or even the importance of smear tests. We were left to figure it out ourselves. 

To put this 1 in 10 statistic into perspective, if half of the 4000 student population at my university is female, then statistically there are 200 female students with endometriosis. In other words, if 30 women read this article, statistically 3 of those women have endometriosis. It is a common condition, yet it takes an average of seven and a half years to be diagnosed due to misconceptions and a laparoscopy being the only test for clear results. Keep in mind that it is labeled as a chronic condition because it can last a lifetime and be extremely painful. Therefore, in light of March being Endometriosis Awareness Month and hosting International Women’s Day, I want to share this topic to help others who may be going through something similar and educate those who haven’t heard about it because it’s possible that you or maybe someone you know may have these symptoms. 

So what is it exactly? According to Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of your uterus. Most commonly it involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis. The symptoms vary from person to person along with the degree of pain but the most common symptoms are; painful periods, pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movement or urination, excessive bleeding, and infertility. Some women have no pain with advanced endometriosis while others have severe pain with mild endometriosis. 

Kristina Stapelfeld / Her Campus Design The problem is we are often taught at a young age that periods are painful and messy. When I was growing up, I was frowned upon by PE teachers for missing class and I felt dramatic for having to go home because I thought I might pass out from the pain. For years I was told by doctors, friends, and older women that “I’ll grow out of it” and "it's not that painful.” But like many, I didn’t grow out of it and now ten years later I’m still navigating the best course of action for my body and how to deal with what has become recently a daily pain. What I experience (although unofficially diagnosed) is not nearly as bad as what other women experience, but it makes some days harder than others.  

Although there isn’t a cure for endometriosis there are lots of different options to help manage the pain and troublesome periods. More and more people are thankfully beginning to discuss it in articles, talk shows, and online. Women are sharing their experiences and support groups can be found on Facebook, YouTube, and podcasts. Even celebrities, such as Julianne Hough, Halsey, Daisy Ridley, Emma Bunton, and Tia Mowry, are openly talking about their experience with it to their fans. Although a recent progression in awareness, I can’t emphasise how important it is to talk about it, research what it is and share these conversations with our circles. 

Severe period pain IS NOT NORMAL.

Periods putting you on hold for a day or more IS NOT NORMAL.  

Heavy and long periods of over 7 days IS NOT NORMAL

Painful sex IS NOT NORMAL.

Pelvic pain without a period IS NOT NORMAL

If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms discussed in this article, talk to a doctor and work with them to find an answer. Endometriosis is hard, both physically and mentally, but it is also common. You are not alone. You don’t have to keep suffering quietly anymore. You can and you will get through this. 

 

Some important links:

For more medical information via HealthLine: https://www.healthline.com/health/endometriosis#complications

Endometriosis Foundation of America: www.endofound.org

Endometriosis UK: https://endometriosis-uk.org/