Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of questions about bad periods, endometriosis and the surgery I had done and I just thought it would be easier for everyone if I put everything I know in one place.
I’ve always suffered from extremely painful periods ever since I had my first one. And because this was normal in my family – I never questioned it. I thought everyone must have it this bad. Taking 2/3 days off school, college, university and even work every month was a standard. I’d downplay my illnesses and say I was dizzy or vomiting when really I was dizzy, vomiting, I had diarrhoea and I felt like I was bleeding my guts out too.
I was too embarrassed to admit the real reason for my absences, thinking that I’d be told to “get on with it” and that it was just “womens issues”. It’s only when I spoke about my symptoms to my friends did I realise that something was probably actually wrong – which scared the shit out of me!
The first time I went to my GP about it I was 17 and I was told to take the Combined Pill. Being prone to vomitting anyway, this didn’t work out very well for me. I was projectile vomitting all over the show and stopped taking it immediately. I knew I should try others but I wasn’t willing to put myself through that again, especially because I wasn’t sexually active and so I gave up and dealt with the pain and suffering for about ten years.
Every month I’d bleed constantly for 7 days and lightly for three days, wearing two pads at-a-time because I’d even leak out of my tampons. I rememeber one time in school where I had leaked onto one of the science stools next to me, I was absolutely livid – it was one of those “please ground swallow me up NOW” moments. Luckily, the boy next to me was very understanding and discretely got me some paper towels and offered me his jumper to tie around my waist.
The first two days of my period are the worst. I’m in excruciating pain, I vomit all my food out and when that’s over I’d be gagging for hours puking up tiny bits of water and gastric acid. The women in my family, who had the same symptoms as me, said their periods got better when they got married and when they had a baby. But I was 27, with no sign of a boyfriend and no chance I wanted a baby anytime soon which is when I decided enough was enough and that I’d have to seek help.
Initially, I went in to ask for a sick note as I was always taking three days off a month and it was making me feel extremely anxious. I kept thinking the worst things, that I wouldn’t pass my probabtion, that I’d be sacked, that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent. My mind was all over the place and I knew this would help me explain to my workplace exactly what I was going through. The doctor asked me what my symptoms are like and agreed with me when I said I didn’t think it was normal. She booked me in for a blood test to see if I had polycystic ovaries and an ultra-sound scan. I was given strong painkillers – Mefanamic Acid and Tryxanamic Acid which helped reduce my bleeding. The mefanamic acid made me dizzy and unable to move, I’d sleep for hours but it didn’t really help reduce the pain.
Although I was happy that I was being taken seriously, I was super anxious because now it was confirmed something was wrong with me and I had no idea what it would be. The ultra-sound scan was done in a matter of minutes and I was told that although there were some cysts visible in the scan, that it didn’t seem to look like Polycystic Ovaries. The blood test also confirmed this and I was then referred to gynae at the hospital.
At my hospital consulatation I was told that my symptoms showed a 95 per cent chance of endometriosis, however, the only way to diagnose it is to have a laproscopy done. This is an invasive procedure where they cut through your belly button with a camera to see what’s going on down there. My consultant told me that if there is endometriosis tissue this would be removed by either cutting or burning it. This option is mostly only given after contraceptives have been tried and if they haven’t reduced your symptoms. They will try to push this option on you but if you’re like me and don’t really want to take them or if they don’t work on you then be firm and tell them what you want.
I was told in the past that I could have endometriosis but I didn’t really research it as I didn’t want to stress myself out because ignorence is bliss right? What I found was that everyone is different and will experience different symptoms but the main ones are severe pain during periods and heavy bleeding. Most women with endo experience the pain in the area between their hips and the top of the legs as well as painful bowel movements, back pain, fatigue, irregular periods and depression – all of which I was very familiar with. It can also affect your fertility but lots of women have it and can still conceive so don’t let this fact get you down (although it is hard not to think about it).
Go to your GP with a log of all your symptoms. Write down how long they last, how heavy you are, whether they are irregular or not. Also take note if you experience pain during sex as this is also one of the indicators.
Can I just say, I’m very happy with all the media attention endometriosis has been getting now because when I was trying to find out things there was hardly anything (S/O to Lena Dunham, Cosmo, Sheerluxe and BBC to name a few). I could have gone into more detail but this post is already getting too long. If you have any questions at all feel free to comment down below or slide in my DM’s and I will be more than happy to help.
In my next post I will tell you more about my surgery experience, what they found and what I’m going to do next.