You know you have endometriosis when…
1. Your life revolves around your heating pad, especially at night
2. You’ve tried all the anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, and they all do nothing, so you give up on NSAIDs and any prescription(s)
3. Because of #2 and lack of treatment options for endo, you likely lose hope in Western medicine, and find yourself at a naturopath office (and/or saying your prayers there’s a treatment sooner than later to make symptoms and pain more tolerable).
4. Then because of #3, you try all the tinctures and natural options; herbs, teas, oils, acupuncture, bio-feedback…basically anything and everything that may help. Gimme all the crystals, mantras, and all the hippie shit — if it can even make endo 10% better, you’ll take it.
5. You visit the ONGYN and the GI on the reg because your issues “down there,” are REAL. You may have chronic BV or yeast infections, so probiotics are your go-to morning ritual.
6. You probably alter your diet to an anti-inflammatory meal plan (because your GI symptoms and discomfort may be ruling your intestines.) So you give up dairy, gluten, red meat, alcohol, and caffeine. You may have IBS, diarrhea, nausea, and/or food allergies.
7. The irony about giving up caffeine is that endo makes you chronically exhausted and fatigued, so you’re always so tired, and people don’t understand why you give up coffee then. (Insert eye roll).
8. Your friends and family don’t understand your endo pain and symptoms, so at times you feel completely misunderstood, and like everyone thinks you’re crying wolf or an over-exaggerator.
9. You may struggle with infertility depending on your endo level, fibroids, cysts, or other endo grows gone rogue. Speaking of cysts – holy shit, you learn all too well how painful these are.
10. You find yourself Googling “chronic abdominal pain” ALL.THE.TIME. Hoping one day you’ll actually find something that says endo can be cured and treated.
11. You get educated; you learn a hysterectomy or a laparoscopy without excision won’t be a long term “fix.” Neither will that birth control your OBGYN keeps prescribing (it may make your periods a little more regular and tolerable, though. But, endo means you’re most likely estrogen dominant and lacking progesterone, so birth control may make things even worse).
12. You’ve tried alllllllll the essential oils, and if one more MLM seller or “friend” tells you YL or DT oils can “cure endo,” you might just tell them to go you know what.
13. Castor oil and meditation apps become your new BFFs.
14. You’ve been through the ringer of hospital tests and feel like a guinea pig; you’ve had countless ultrasounds, MRIs, a laparoscopy (or a few), have tried acupuncture, and have most likely visited the ER a few times thinking you have appendicitis or something else seriously wrong.
15. Is that a period or are you literally hemorrhaging? You either have periods that completely overflow super plus pads and tampons and last like two weeks (not too mention how debilitating the cramps are before and during your periods), or you may have unpredictable cycles, spotting all month, or perhaps, no period at all. Oh the joys of aunt flow when you have endo.
16. You may struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues due to chronic pain and symptoms that are REAL.
17. What is a healthy, normal sex life? Endo makes sex extremely painful, making you lose your sex drive or be horrified of anything even coming close to you down there…
18. You feel like a flake because it’s nearly impossible to make plans in advance when you have endo. Your flare ups are either unpredictable, or are 24/7, so being a social butterfly is next to impossible (even when you once were).
19. Because of #16-17, you find your friendships and relationships have a huge amount of stress on them.
20. Among GI and pelvic issues and pain, you also may suffer from lower back pain and sometimes painful urination. Although endo most commonly affects the lower body, in sever cases it can also affect upper abdominal areas, and rarely, but sometimes, even the lungs.
If you’re reading this and either think you have endo, or know you do from a confirmed diagnosis from a laparoscopy, you are a FKING warrior and goddess. You still get up each and every day and manage to LIVE. You walk by thousands of strangers in your lifetime who have no clue how much you’re suffering, but you are a queen for battling a disease with no cure or true effective treatment options. You are so brave and so strong. Try to never lose hope – in yourself, your future, or others who may not understand. You are (and have to be) your own advocate 💗
What is endometriosis?<
ccording to the Endometriosis Association, “Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S., 1 million in Canada, and millions more worldwide. It occurs when tissue like that which lines the uterus (tissue called the endometrium) is found outside the uterus — usually in the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and ligaments that support the uterus; the area between the vagina and rectum; the outer surface of the uterus; and the lining of the pelvic cavity. Other sites for these endometrial growths may include the bladder, bowel, vagina, cervix, vulva, and in abdominal surgical scars. Less commonly they are found in the lung, arm, thigh, and other locations. This misplaced tissue develops into growths or lesions which respond to the menstrual cycle in the same way that the tissue of the uterine lining does: each month the tissue builds up, breaks down, and sheds. Menstrual blood flows from the uterus and out of the body through the vagina, but the blood and tissue shed from endometrial growths has no way of leaving the body. This results in internal bleeding, breakdown of the blood and tissue from the lesions, and inflammation — and can cause pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems.”
“Endo belly” (left is normal, fit stomach; right is swollen)What causes endometriosis?<
he exact cause of endometriosis is unknown (nice, right?!). The Endometrosis Association writes:
“The retrograde menstruation theory (transtubal migration theory) suggests that during menstruation some of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes, implants in the abdomen, and grows. Some experts believe that all women experience some menstrual tissue backup and that an immune system problem or a hormonal problem allows this tissue to grow in the women who develop endometriosis.Another theory suggests that endometrial tissue is distributed from the uterus to other parts of the body through the lymph system or through the blood system. A genetic theory suggests that it may be carried in the genes in certain families or that some families may have predisposing factors to endometriosis.Surgical transplantation has also been cited in many cases where endometriosis is found in abdominal scars, although it has also been found in such scars when accidental implantation seems unlikely.Another theory suggests that remnants of tissue from when the woman was an embryo may later develop into endometriosis, or that some adult tissues retain the ability they had in the embryo stage to transform reproductive tissue in certain circumstances.Research by the Endometriosis Association revealed a startling link between dioxin (TCCD) exposure and the development of endometriosis. Dioxin is a toxic chemical byproduct of pesticide manufacturing, bleached pulp and paper products, and medical and municipal waste incineration. The EA discovered a colony of rhesus monkeys that had developed endometriosis after exposure to dioxin. 79% of the monkeys exposed to dioxin developed endometriosis, and, in addition, the more dioxin exposure, the more severe the endo” (Endometriosis Association, 2017).<
f you or a loved one is suffering from endometriosis, talk to your doctor, your therapist, your friends, and your family. While there is no cure or treatment plan that proves to be extremely helpful (or a major relief), it's important to not isolate yourself, not give up hope, and at least try to find a treatment option that works for you.