#SpeakENDO: What is Endometriosis?

According to the Office on Women's Health, Endometriosis happens when the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It acts the same way as the lining inside your uterus, meaning it breaks off and bleeds during your period but because it is not in its usual place, it can become trapped inside the body which can lead to cysts, intense pain and even infertility.

Via Mayo Clinic

It affects over 6 ½ million women in America, making it a common health problem for women, yet many people do not know what it is. If it is so common, why aren’t we talking about it more? So, let’s talk about pain bias. As women, we are often told we are overthinking our pain and that nothing is actually wrong with us. In her book, Ask Me About My Uterus, Abby Norman talks about how her endometriosis pain was dismissed as a UTI until bringing her boyfriend along to her doctor's appointment to vouch for her pain. This study found that women in the emergency room are less likely to be given opioid painkillers, despite the fact that they are the most effective. Dozens of other studies have been done that prove women’s pain is taken less seriously than men’s but not much has been done about it.

Related: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Endometriosis

Symptoms of endometriosis are painful menstrual cramps, chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis, pain during or after sex, bleeding or spotting between periods, digestive problems and inability to get pregnant. However, symptoms can vary from person to person, some women may experience one or two, while others may experience all of them. If you think you may have endometriosis, you can start by taking this quiz from SpeakENDO. From there, make sure to speak with a healthcare provider so they can give you a proper diagnosis.

Endometriosis can only really be diagnosed with Laparoscopy, a type of surgery that allows doctors to look inside the pelvic area for endometriosis tissue. However, other procedures can be done to help a doctor determine if you have endo, such as an MRI or pelvic exam.

There is currently no cure for endometriosis but there are other treatment options that can help manage pain. Treatment options include various forms of birth control and other medications and, in severe cases, surgery.

In 2017, Halsey opened up on social media about her surgeries to treat her endometriosis and has helped to normalize the conversation around this disorder. She stated “...in my recovery, I am thinking of all of you and how you give me the strength and stamina to power through and prosper. If you suffer from chronic pain or a debilitating disease please know that I have found time to live a crazy, wild, rewarding life AND balance my treatment and I hope so much in my heart that you can too,” proving that you are not alone in your pain.

Via @iamhalsey on Instagram

If you think you may have endometriosis, make sure to do your research and speak with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you. You can also find more information and resources here. Remember, you are not alone, collegiettes!