Can you imagine being sick for 10 years?
A decade of symptoms, pain, frustration, and a deep burning intuition that something is wrong. Yet despite all the evidence that you are indeed sick, you never receive a diagnosis or treatment options to overcome the illness. Can you imagine?
I can. Along with 176 million other women world-wide.
Welcome to Endometriosis.
The disease takes an average of 10 years to medically diagnose, yet it affects 1 in 10 women around the world. The number of women with Endometriosis is suspected to be much larger (possibly every 3 out of 10 women), however Endometriosis can only be diagnosed via surgery causing much of the population to suffer without answers.
March is Endometriosis Awareness month and we must call attention to this disease that not only affects female reproductive health, but also has mental, emotional, and physical consequences.
Endometriosis doesn’t kill you. It may make you feel like dying due to the debilitating nature of the disease, but you won’t in fact die. Therefore, Endo receives very little funding and acknowledgment as compared to other female health concerns.
That is why Endometriosis Awareness Month is so important. It’s an opportunity for women to not only learn about the warning signs, but also to start conversations. Conversations on how to manage the disease, how to talk to your partner/spouse/ loved one about your experience and what they can do to help, what current treatments are working, and most importantly… which ones are not.
I suffered for 13 years before my first surgery to confirm what my gynecologist had long suspected…
Stage four severe endometriosis not only growing on my Fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries, but also growing on my stomach, kidneys, bowels, and abdominal wall.
I was lucky. Not because of my diagnosis, but because I had a mother and grandmother who had also suffered with the disease. They were open, honest, never judgmental, and created a community where talking about sexual health wasn’t taboo – just normal.
Not everyone has that.
Endometriosis Awareness Month is about creating that community. A community where we learn and provide support to those women who need it most.
Because the typical diagnosis can take an average of ten years (ten years too long if you ask me), it’s important to start syncing up NOW with communities of women sharing about their endometriosis, menstruation, and female issues.
Why? These communities of women often share symptoms and health issues that you might be experiencing too… or even worse, over-looking.
Being informed and well-versed with reproductive health may help you work with your doctor to receive a diagnosis and solution much quicker.
Endometriosis can affect the whole body. While the excruciating pain and excessive menstrual bleeding can be traumatic, it is the debilitating nature of the disease that often adds to the suffering. Back pain, IBS, pelvic floor issues, excess inflammation, intense hormonal fluctuations, pain during intimacy, food sensitivities to dairy, sugar, and gluten, brain fog, exhaustion, abdominal pain, bloat, abdominal swelling, weight gain, weight loss, and an inability to participate in normal life activities. These are all common symptoms in women with Endometriosis. Most of us can relate to each one of those symptoms.
There are currently no cures to the disease. Many physicians prescribe pharmaceutical treatments to help quell the symptoms. However, these treatments have been criticized by the Endo Community for doing more harm than good and causing many other negative side effects for patients.
If you are suffering from any of the mentioned symptoms, there are some recommended steps to do immediately:
First - Start by tracking your monthly menstrual experiences. Endometriosis symptoms can happen outside your normal period week, and it is important to track what you’re experiencing so you can communicate effectively with your physician.
Second- Seek out products that may help with some of the issues. For example, if you’re experiencing pain during intimacy, use an all-natural lubricant such as Chiavaye to help ease friction and reduce skin irritation. You’ll want to look for a pure, high-quality formula that nourishes and hydrates your most delicate skin.
Third - Take a look at your diet and make note of any foods that seem to cause bloating, IBS, constipation, loose stools, stomach aches, or make you feel tired or irritated. There is a whole diet system dedicated to Endometriosis and inflammation from food plays a big role. While you may not be officially diagnosed yet, adjusting your food intake may improve symptoms.
Women helping women – it’s a beautiful thing!
To take advantage of Endometriosis Awareness Month, join communities and share resources with your fellow Endo Sisters. Even if you haven’t been surgically diagnosed yet, it’s incredibly important to start learning about the support that’s available.endo
Here are some of my favorite endo resources:
The Endometriosis Foundation of America celebrating 10 years of providing women with resources, medical recommendations, blog posts, and support for dealing with Endometriosis. It’s a great first stop for any women dealing with this disease.
The Endometriosis Coalition (@theendo.co) is an awesome Instagram page to follow. The women who founded the organization all have Endometriosis and they do a great job talking about a plethora of issues including diet, treatment, symptoms, and management.
Jessica Murnane created Know Your Endo based on her debilitating experience with the disease. Her holistic approach provides tons of resources on diet, education, and ways to fight back. She also created One Part Plant where you can find amazing (endo friendly) diets, a podcast, and plant-based cooking info.
Dr. Brianne Grogan, PT, DPT offers a free YouTube channel loaded with videos dedicated to pelvic floor issues, pain management, exercises, and yoga techniques created especially for women. Check out her channel – FemFusionFitness.
The most important takeaway from Endometriosis Awareness Month is to tell your doctor right away if you’re having any issues. Listen to your intuition and seek the help you need.
We are always available to talk and listen – so reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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