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All Young Women Need To Know!

Endometriosis!

By now we can all anticipate those monthly cramps and horrible moods associated with your period. However, for some these pains can be taken to a whole new level and often don’t play by the ‘once a month rule’. Endometriosis is a condition that affects over 1.5 million women throughout the country but is often overlooked by women and doctors alike.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis can affect anyone and doesn’t always make its grand appearance when your period does. The condition is caused when the lining of the womb wanders off and attaches itself to other organs in the body.  The troubling thing about this is that these adventurous cells still go through a monthly cycle as if they were lining the womb, but as the cells build up and start to break down and bleed the blood has no where to go, causing scar tissue, inflammation and pain in the area it now calls home.

The symptoms of this condition can have a massive impact on a woman’s life and can include:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with sex/relationships
  • Infertility
  • Bladder/bowel pain and problems
  • Heavy/painful/irregular/deeply dreaded periods
  • Pelvic pain between periods

So far this condition seems as though it should be pretty simple to diagnose. Unfortunately, the average time to diagnose this condition is 7.5 long years! And if you suffer with this from a young age, as I have since 14 you will wait for what feels a lifetime. Similar to the current issue with cervical cancer and smear tests, when a young girl presents these symptoms to their doctor they are more than likely to be told ‘you’re too young’, but this will come after months of being told you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or that ‘it’s just a period’ and being made to feel like the queen of hypochondriacs. This is due to the complexity of endometriosis; the cells can attach themselves to the bladder or bowel, outside of the ovaries, kidneys and the liver! For this reason it is understandable why the diagnosis is often so difficult, with so many different organs affected you might even start to feel sorry for the poor gynaecologist! Finally, after possibly years of trailing to the doctors they will eventually consider the possibility of endometriosis, BUT if you are unfortunate enough to be under that magical age of 25 at this stage you may not receive a full diagnosis. The diagnosis for this condition can only be done through a laparoscopy, which the doctors’ claim is too intrusive for a young woman. But don’t be put off! Once you have visited your doctor enough to see a consultant you will be put at ease and will finally get some much needed insight into your condition and how they will go about it.

Its not all doom and gloom!

Although official diagnosis and treatment (there is no cure as of yet!), are usually out of reach for younger women there are other ways you can manage the condition.

Firstly, if you think at all that you have these symptoms write them all down, even things that aren’t listed as official symptoms

Many women have weakened immune systems or take migraines regularly – take the list to your doctor and be persistent! Doctors tend to dismiss this as many other things and unless you keep on their case you will probably find yourself getting nowhere.

Ask for a form contraception to stop your period

This will not get rid of all your symptoms and pain, but ‘that time of the month’ is usually when women with endometriosis find them selves unable to function, some passing out and throwing up with pain. If your doctor suspects you have endometriosis they may suggest you receive the Depo-Provera contraceptive injection, a little gem at chasing away your period.

Carry painkillers everywhere! 

Your doctor will probably prescribe some strong painkillers. Use them wisely, carry some with you at all times because you never know when the pain will come. This way you don’t have to worry about how to get home with a ton of library books while feeling as though someone is repeatedly stabbing and squeezing your insides. However, don’t rely on them, strong painkillers can be addictive and eventually you won’t feel the benefits if you use them with every pain. 

Drink herbal or green tea! 

At first I thought it was a myth, but it is working wonders! Again this will not change the pain but the fatigue, lack of energy and that constant sluggish feeling are all gone. Suffering from the fatigue of endometriosis is a killer when dealing with deadlines and exams, which in turn creates stress and stress is a big trigger for setting off your symptoms – a very vicious circle for any student! Avoid coffee, by swapping it with these teas, this can b hard if you are like me and rely on coffee but it is doable and completely worth it. Clear skin, good hair and strong nails are just some added bonuses for drinking these cups of herbal goodness. Try Your Tea, or Twining’s flavoured green teas.

Manage your time!

University can easily be described with one word, stress! And again stress is a big trigger for the symptoms. Plan ahead with your course work and exams and make sure you take some time to yourself, when Game of Thrones returns you will probably find taking some me time in front of the TV a lot easier. In the mean time find a good book or get on Netflix and indulge in Gossip Girl with a nice cup of your herbal tea. You deserve it!

Watch what you drink!

We all know that a big part of becoming a student is the cheap drinks and nights out. But make sure you give your body a rest. By all means complete your rounds of pub golf but try and swap some of your wild nights out for night in with a movie. Believe me, trying to fight a hangover while being overwhelmed with cramps and fatigue will make this choice a lot easier. Try having water in between every couple of drinks, have a good bit of drunken food at the end of the night and set out a big glass of water next to your bed for when you get home. Water is your friend and know your limit!

Exercise!

If you suffer from the condition you will know that heavy exercise is not always possible and can even bring on and worsen your symptoms. However Yoga is said to be great for suffers. I find focussing on working out on the days where I have the energy and little or sometimes no pain helps the most. Strengthening core muscles can help, but too much can also make it worse so spend some time finding out what’s right for you and get to know your body and your limits.

 Stay positive!

Many women with endometriosis can feel isolated and depressed. Find people who you can trust, like your best friends and spend good time with them, have a girly chat and most importantly let your friends know or at least try to make them understand! Nothing better than a girls night in!

 Finally talk about it!

Obviously don’t drop it into casual conversation with some new friends. The biggest problem with endometriosis is the extreme lack of awareness. Talk to close friends and your partner about it, it will help you out when your having a bad day and you know your besties will be there for you, I don’t know what I would do without mine. Find a support group, speaking to other women with the condition helps more than you would guess. You will find out symptoms you never knew were related and can share little things that help and it’s good to know you’re not alone!

Endometriosis UK is a charity currently fighting hard to raise awareness and increase research for endometriosis. They are looking at not only making women aware but also giving specialist training to nurses and doctors, in the hope of opening specialist endometriosis clinics. It is true that our generation are more open and less conservative than the older ones. The biggest issue is getting over the taboo of ‘women’s problems’ and encouraging young women to speak up about their issues and to seek help when they need it. So if you think you may be suffering from endometriosis, don’t be scared or embarrassed about it, you wouldn’t ignore a lump on your breast would you?

Finally visit endometriosis-uk.org for more information, personal testimonies and ways of raising awareness and fundraising.

Photo Credits: 

www.osteopathreservoir.com

birdietakesabow.files.wordpress.com

quizimg.whichblankareyou.com

sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

endometriosis-uk.org

Ola friends! I'm Stephie. I now have 2 lovely kids. I make sure we have New Hampshire health plans for our protection. Health should be prioritized.
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