I had horrible stomach and pelvic pains the first few years of high school. I mean really, really bad stomach aches, lower back pain, nausea, and fatigue. My primary care doctor had ruled out a variety of causes and referred me to a specialist.
Unfortunately, specialist after specialist couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I was often hunched over, clutching my stomach on the couch at home, and experiencing all of these symptoms. I missed a lot of classes during high school because of the pain, but had no tangible cause for it. I know some of the doctors thought I was making it up when they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. It was my word against the doctors — some of whom, suggested I go to therapy. To talk it out. Because it was probably “in my head.”
At the time, there wasn’t much information out there about endometriosis. I had never heard about it and had also never heard any of my doctors mention it. The pain didn’t just start and stop when the period did, which is why it never seemed like the pain and my period were related.
It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that my mom (who works in the medical field) put two and two together that I could be suffering from endometriosis. I had been taken to the emergency room after keeling over in pain with severe stomach and back pain, where even the morphine (yes, morphine!!) the doctors injected wasn’t helping. After appendicitis was ruled out, it was then that my mom asked, “Are you on your period right now?” I was.
After that ER visit, my life turned around.
I had laparoscopic surgery the summer going into my senior year of high school to scrape out the endometriosis and scar tissue that had built up. The surgery worked wonders for me! I also continue to take birth control pills, as the hormones limit and decrease the growth of endometriosis. The last nine years have been phenomenal compared to my health and overall well being before the surgery.
I wish we had figured out the source of the pain sooner, though. Would’ve saved me from a bunch of colon cleanses and an unfortunate sigmoidoscopy (docs had to rule out IBS first)!
This symptom scares the s*** out of me: The other well known symptom associated with endometriosis is infertility. It is estimated that 30-40% of women with endometriosis are subfertile. Only time will tell if this becomes an issue for me, but from what I’ve been told, having the laparoscopic surgery reduces my chances of infertility. I really hope so.
Want to learn more about endometriosis?
Watch the video below and read the key facts. Visit Endometriosis.org.
Key facts via Endometriosis.org:
Endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide regardless of their ethnic and social background. Many remain undiagnosed and are therefore not treated.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain.
The pain often correlates to the menstrual cycle, but a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain that doesn’t correlate to her cycle – this is what makes this disease/condition so unpredictable and frustrating.
For many women, the pain of endometriosis is so severe and debilitating that it impacts their lives in significant ways.