I would like to point out first I am NOT a doctor, or expert, I am just a girl who is obsessed with health and fitness and have had my highs and lows trying to find balance and health. I have had the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, and the struggle of almost 10 years to take back my health. This is my journey with Endometriosis and how I’ve found relief, and dare I say remission. Alright let’s get started I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in March of 2008, that is almost 10 years of dealing with a chronic disease that millions of women are suffering with daily. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis, which can affect their fertility, digestion, immune system, psyche, and the worst part chronic pain with no relief, and no cure (endometriosisassn.org). As of right now there is NO CURE for endometriosis, and in my opinion no real form of treatment. Some medical experts say that Endometriosis is an auto immune disease since your body is attacking itself.
Endometriosis is when the tissue in the uterus that normally sheds during a menstrual cycle, grows outside of the uterus and attached to different body parts even outside of the abdominal cavity and can turn into growths, and lesions. These growths and lesions can and usually do lead to inflammation and pain. These pains are intense, like having to be in the fetal position with a heating pad all day. Having There are lots of symptoms of endometriosis here is a list of some of them:
- Extreme pelvic pain that OTC pain meds do not help
- Heavy or long menstrual flows (periods lasting over 7 days)
- Being estrogen dominant (menstrual cycles being shorter than 28 days)
- Autoimmune disorders
- Food sensitivities
- Painful sex
- Bowel and urinary disorders
- Nausea, or vomiting (Endocenter.org).
The cause of endometriosis is still unknown, but here are some of the theories out there:
- Retrograde menstruation- Abnormal back flow of blood back to the ovaries and abdominal
- Immunologic dysfunction- A broken immune system, by having a weak immune system the body starts attacking itself, and
- Estrogen dominance- either hereditary or being exposed in the environment or food. Estrogen dominance shortens your menstrual cycle and prevents progesterone and testosterone from working functionally.
- Genetics- If it is in your family history on your mother’s side you have a higher chance of having endo.
- Environmental Toxins- being exposed to carcinogens and harmful chemicals through products and food.
So right now you may be thinking “OMG, I have endometriosis” well you just might, but the only way to actually be diagnosed with Endo is by having surgery performed to see if there are visible lesions, sounds easy enough right? NOPE! On average most women are not diagnosed for 8-10 years! Like WHAT?! Almost a decade of going through these painful periods, and sometimes that pain is daily! Get your act together medical system! The worst part isn’t being diagnosed with endometriosis, at least then you know why your body hates you, it’s the months and years leading up to that final AH-HA moment of having an answer after years of misery, and lets be honest thinking we are crazy. I mean who really can live in that much pain daily? The reason it can take almost a decade to be diagnosed is the fact that so many OBGYN and doctors are under educated on Endometriosis and fail to connect the symptoms and most importantly take their patient seriously. Most women are misdiagnosed with crohns, IBS, and other digestive disorders, which leads to a longer diagnosis for what is actually going on, talk about frustrating and playing mind games!
Lucky for me, my journey to a diagnosis did not take a decade, it did take almost a year though. I had always had heavy periods growing up, but lucky for me I never had cramps, I was very active and healthy. My mother had irregular and heavy periods when she wasn’t on birth control and her doctors had told her that it was normal so we never had a cause of concern for me. About a year before I started having pelvic pain, I was exposed to black mold in my college dorm room and apartment and I got very sick. I was on antibiotics for over 6 months for sinus infections and other things that would not go away. After that my immune system was shot, I would catch any cold that was even remotely exposed to me. In my opinion, this was my cause of endometriosis was due to a broken immune system. At this time I had been on birth control since I was 15 due to my irregular periods and to help with my heavy flow, so when I started having daily pelvic pain I was quite surprised. My first OBGYN recommended to change what pill I was on to see if the different dose of estrogen would be helpful. We went through numerous prescriptions, but none of them helped.
Then on a Saturday night in 2007 I started having stabbing pains, these pains were so bad I ended up in the ER, where after multiple tests and ultrasounds I was told I have an ovarian cyst that burst, which was the cause of my pain, and that the pain would go away. After a few days the pain lessened, but I was still having not feeling right. But since my doctor didn’t seemed concerned I just did what I could to deal with it. A few months had gone by and at this point I had not had a period for a few months, I had been numerous times to the ER for ruptured cysts, my pain started becoming daily, I was getting physically sick, vomiting, from how bad the pain was, and I lost a lot of weight. I then researched the top recommended OBGYN in my area and made an appointment to see him, and there on a big screen TV I was finally seeing what my OBGYN and ER doctors had been seeing, cysts all over my ovaries, and One large one that they could not determine what was inside. He recommended I had surgery ASAP, at this point I was too scared to have surgery and I didn’t know why, or what would happen. My insurance changed so I could no longer see that doctor, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. With my new insurance, I ended up seeing the best doctor who changed everything for me.