Endometriosis is a condition that affects one in 10 women in the UK, yet not many people know what it is, let alone know how to learn to live with it. Endometriosis is a condition in which pieces of tissue like the ones that lines the womb (endometrium) are found outside of the womb. The tissue is commonly found on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, abdomen, bowel, and bladder but can also be found in other parts of the body. It embeds itself on organs and can cause adhesions. The symptoms are varied but common ones include severe pelvic pain, fatigue, heavy and painful periods, and sometimes infertility.
Last year I had a phone call from the hospital calling me in for surgery to remove what could possibly be endometriosis. After many years of doctors' appointments and misdiagnoses, I was relieved action was being taken, but kept thinking "should I be panicking at this point?" I've had a history of multiple medical "setbacks" (as I like to call them) so I was pretty laid back about it all. I was sent home after surgery with an endometriosis leaflet and told I'd be fully recovered from the surgery and disease in three to seven days (spoiler: there is no full recovery or cure for endo and I didn't know this). Three weeks later, I was still bed bound and completely unprepared for the diagnosis or recovery. I was in my final year at university, writing a dissertation, about to turn 21, and unable to walk more than five minutes. Nevertheless, due to my stubborn nature, I powered through ignoring any post-surgery symptoms, subsequently making them worse. I was ill and frustrated, and eventually I took to the internet to find out how I could help myself.
Endometriosis has no definite cure and has a wide range of symptoms with an average diagnosis of seven-and-a-half years.It is a debilitating condition, but many suffer in silence due to unresolved symptoms or misdiagnosis. Many women feel powerless, labelled hypochondriacs in their journey to diagnosis. Despite the increasing recognition and awareness for the disease, there is little to actually help women live through their symptoms happily. Painkillers and rest may help, but life goes on and many of us have to work through our symptoms regardless of our current health status. Sharing can help immensely with empowering women physically and mentally to live a fulfilled life with the condition.
I asked nine women who suffer from endometriosis to share their tried-and-tested tips and hacks on how to live happily and as free of pain as possible. Even if you don't suffer from endometriosis, these tips could help ease period pain or simply help you understand the condition a bit more.