Sweatpants Against A Wall

My Experience with Endometriosis

Over a year ago, I began experiencing abdominal cramps that were unlike any pain I had ever felt before.

The pain I was feeling could be described as being similar to period cramps, but they often occurred throughout my menstrual cycle, not just a single week.

Some days, I would be doubled over in pain and unable to move because I was in so much pain.

I remember sitting through classes and not being able to focus my attention on anything but the pain near my pelvis.

It was incredibly uncomfortable, but I’m thankful to have been able to pinpoint the cause of my pain by going to a gynecologist that was well-versed in endometriosis.

More on that later, but many people wait years for an endometriosis diagnosis and are often told that they’re overreacting to “typical” period pain. 

For me, endometriosis didn’t just manifest in extreme abdominal pain and cramps.

Sometimes, the pain would travel through my legs and would be most intense in my thighs.

I also experienced intense lower back pain.

Walking to class was unbearable, and I would hold back tears as I dragged myself from one place to another.

There were days when I simply could not get out of bed because I was in so much pain.

I became accustomed to using a heating pad around the clock and doing homework from my bed for comfort.

At the time, I was also dealing with worsening migraines and struggling through my classes. 

For a long time, I just learned to deal with the pain and brushed it off as being normal. (Pro tip: Don’t do that! Pain is not normal!)

Around this time, I also happened to see a couple of Instagram posts by celebrities that I follow regarding endometriosis awareness, education, and personal experiences.

The one that stuck out to me the most was Sarah Hyland’s, and this is how I first learned about endometriosis.

While research on endometriosis is still in the early stages due to a lack of knowledge about its existence and a general lack of funding for women’s health research, there is just enough information available to know what it is and which symptoms are associated with it.

Some common symptoms may include pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, pelvis, or vagina.

Many people with endometriosis experience pain with sex and menstruation that is abnormal, extremely painful, or irregular. 

As I began looking up my symptoms, endometriosis kept coming up in the search results.

I ended up reading some research papers and journal articles about less common symptoms and remember reading as much as I could about endo.

I was well aware that the internet is not my doctor, but the end of the semester was months away and I was holding off to see my gynecologist back home.

I tried getting an appointment locally, but everything was booked for months, so I scheduled an appointment back home and hoped that the pain would lessen between then and my appointment. 

Many people with endometriosis end up seeing multiple doctors before receiving any kind of diagnosis.

This is due to a general lack of knowledge around endometriosis, as well as the fact that the pain that women experience is often claimed to be normal.

Someone facing debilitating cramps may be called dramatic and be told that it is just their regular menstrual cycle.

They may be told they just get “bad periods.”

This is grossly incorrect, and I urge anyone dealing with extreme menstrual pain to talk to their doctor.

One in 10 women have endometriosis, but it is a heavily underdiagnosed condition.

It also takes an average of 7-10 years for someone to receive an accurate endometriosis diagnosis.

When I went to the gynecologist for my appointment, I told them about all of my symptoms and they did a general pelvic exam to rule out anything that may be easier to detect.

The only way to formally diagnose endometriosis is to have surgery, but this is typically avoided until it is the only option left.

After my results came back clear, I was scheduled for an ultrasound to check for cysts and any other irregularities that can occur.

Results kept coming back clear, and without me mentioning endometriosis at all, my gyno said it was probably what was going on.

She explained that there is no cure for it, but there are ways to help manage pain.

Since then, I have been taking birth control, which has drastically improved my symptoms.

Another common treatment option is a surgery in which most, if not all, endometrial tissue present is removed.

Although the tissue will come back over time, it can help alleviate severe symptoms in some patients.

Because the tissue comes back, many patients undergo multiple surgeries throughout their lifetimes.

I still experience endometriosis symptoms in varying degrees every so often, but am thankful that using birth control has been working for me.

Thinking back to the severity of pain that I was experiencing regularly just a year ago, I am doing so much better.

It took a few months for my symptoms to get better, but it was well worth the wait.

Sometimes, I still get waves of pain that bring me to tears or make me double over, but I’ve accepted that this is just part of my life. 

Over the past year, I have found great chat forums, websites, and social media accounts that talk about endometriosis.

It can feel like an incredibly isolating and lonely condition, but hearing the stories of others helps you realize that you are not alone in this fight.

In the past year alone, I have noticed a general increase in conversation about endometriosis, and I hope I can add to some of it in the future.

The more aware people are, the more likely that research can be done and answers regarding the cause of endometriosis and other forms of treatment can be found.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of endometriosis, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

It’s important to recognize that although menstrual pain is said to be normal, it isn’t.

Trust your intuition if something feels wrong, and reach out to a medical professional to help you with any concerns.