Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Is Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis awareness month. Throughout the month of March and beyond I will be sharing both informative and personal posts about the debilitating consequences of the disease, in hope to raise awareness, in hope of a cure one day and in hope of empowering other women who battle the painful problem. Endometriosis is a very personal disease, and in writing about it there will plenty of "uterus", "falopian tubes", "menstruation" and "painful period" talk accompanied by detailed pictures.


Endometriosis is a common gynecological medical condition which has been estimated to affect around 3-10% of women of reproductive age, and between 25-35% of infertile women. The prevalence of Endometriosis with those suffering from pelvic pain is about 40-60% and the average diagnosis occurs between the ages of 20 and 29.

The endometrium is the name for the tissue which lines a woman's uterus, and this is where the term "Endometriosis" comes from. In simple terms, Endometriosis is when the endometrial tissue abnormally grows outside the uterus. Normally during menstruation, the lining sheds and is discharged from the body, however, the blood from the endometrial tissue growth outside the uterus has no where to go which builds up, and as a result produces inflammation and scar tissue. These endometrial deposits are often referred to as "implants" or "growths".

Endometriosis is usually classified as being minimal, mild, moderate, or severe and this depends on how many endometrial deposits exist, and the placement of these deposits (what organs are involved). The symptoms of Endometriosis often worsen with the menstrual cycle and the severity/debilitating symptoms depend on the site of active endometriosis.

I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2007 at the age of 19 after suffering with symptoms from the age of 16. My gynaecologist explains the disease as a funny phenomena as most patients she treats who are debilitated by pain only have minimal endometrial deposits, whilst others who display no symptoms whatsoever have extensive damage to the pelvic cavity. Although in my case the disease is only mild, I find the disease debilitating and often extremely painful at times due to the fact that I suffer with an adhesion where my bladder is attached to my left ovary by a wall of scar tissue. And yes, it is as painful as it sounds, it hurts like hell! I find myself constantly struggling with symptoms on a daily basis because of this.

Since 2007 I have had three surgeries, one diagnostic and two diathermy laser treatments, only to find little relief lasting only for three months after surgery. I have tried countless pills and two implants which didn't help with controlling the bladder symptoms and unfortunately caused severe depression and mood swings which forced me to stop treatment. At present, because of treatment side effects, I am not being treated for Endometriosis with medication. The adhesion which affects my bladder is back with a vengeance and I have been putting off a visit to the gynaecologist because I know that the only option will probably be to have another surgery, and because of previous surgeries, has even more risks. I'm trying to deal with the pain as best as I can with rest, pain killers and heat packs but due to a recent significant increase in bladder pain and symptoms, it leaves me with no other choice than to make an appointment and discuss my treatment options. Despite dealing with the frustration and difficulties this disease dishes out, I'm on a mission to encourage other women and to live life with Endometriosis, EMPOWERED!

Sources:

http://women.webmd.com/endometriosis/understanding-endometriosis-basics
http://women.webmd.com/endometriosis/endometriosis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endometriosis



3 comments:

Alanna said...

Thanks for these posts Em. I'm starting to wonder if I have endo, especially because I already have rheumatoid arthritis and I know that can be connected. I get really bad period pain some months (more often than not) but it only really lasts a couple of days if that, and usually only in the lead up to my period. I should probably mention it to my Dr I know...

Emily Ruth said...

You're welcome! Thanks for reading :) yeah I reckon it's connected too, I seriously think that endo caused all of my problems as I had endo symptoms and then a few years later started getting sore joints- it can't be a coincidence! My doctors deny the link though. If your pain is only in the lead up it could possibly be something else, so it's worth investigating. I get a lot of pain with ovulation as well as my period with endo. Good luck! Let me know how you go.

Alanna said...

I think I'm going to start keeping a bit of a pain journal (I've been saying this for ages!) for both my RA and other pain. That was I can identify when the pain comes and if it's linked with my cycle at all :)

PS... You're diary is on the way! I finally got my hands on the paper I needed for the back of the diary. I'll hopefully finish it this weekend when I'm back home (damn placement!) and will get it posted to you asap. I can't remember if you sent me your mail address (I'm sure you probably did) but can you email it to me again?

Thanks!

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