It is a hormonal and immune disease affecting girls as young as eight and women of all ages. The name comes from the word, endometrium, which is the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus and builds up and sheds each month in the menstrual cycle. In “endo” tissue like the endometrium is found outside the uterus in other areas of the body, most commonly in the abdomen.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms include pain with periods; pain with intercourse, urination, or with a bowel movement; and infertility.
Period Pain is Not Normal!
That’s right! It is not normal to be in pain during your period. If pain during a menstrual period cannot be relieved by over-the-counter pain medication and a heating pad, then endometriosis should be suspected. It is important to be diagnosed as soon as possible, as earlier diagnosis and treatment may reduce the progression and severity of the disease.
Endometriosis…such a big word that can be very confusing. If you were to search the word, there would be information about painful periods, possible infertility and treatment options of surgery and birth control. You may find pictures of damaged reproductive organs from years of scarring or women doubled over in pain. If you were to ask me to simply explain this big word, endometriosis, I’d tell you that it is a disease of women’s reproductive organs that causes intense pain especially during their periods. Endometriosis can keep some women from doing daily activities like going to school or work and even from having children.
A woman with endometriosis may feel pain even when it is not time for her period. The pain may be cramping, sharp, dull, achy or stabbing. Some women feel pain on one side of their belly or in many places. Endometriosis may also cause pain in the legs and back along with headaches, pain with bowel movements or urination. Bloating, constipation and diarrhea are also possible. All of these symptoms can seem unbearable and can cause extreme exhaustion.
In life we, as women, take many journeys: the journey through education, career decisions, through relationships and family transitions. Throughout all these journeys there has been someone (or more than one person) who has supported us, encouraged us and held our hand through the process. Some of these journeys presented obstacles and hurdles we did not expect and made us grateful for people within our support systems.
For millions of women living with endometriosis, the incurable and painful disease that occurs when tissue from the uterus is found in other places of the body, a new journey is required of them and their support system. This journey is unexpected for most and can cause a shift in many of their relationships, and friendships.