The start of March marks the beginning of lots of awesome things! Spring is just around the corner, Spring/Summer fashion is hitting all of our favourite stores and Easter is coming which gives us an excuse to over indulge in chocolate.
As well as being excited about all of the awesomeness that March will bring we are passionate about Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is a chronic illness that affects 1 in 10 Women worldwide and we are joining the fight! This month WAXON is helping spread awareness and raising money for further education and resources for Women affected by Endometriosis.
You may have heard about Endometriosis in the media recently with Lena Dunham pulling out of all of her media appearances due to complications with her Endometriosis. Lena isn’t the only celeb speaking up about the illness, Singer/Songwriter Halsey also shared her own story about living with Endometriosis recently. It isn’t surprising that a lot of women in the media are starting to speak up about their struggles considering that a staggering 1 in 10 Women suffer from the disease!
This week we collaborated with Shari, who writes one of our favourite blogs lunchboxblonde.com, to get two Women’s perspectives on living with Endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis?
Simply put, endometriosis is a disease whereby tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, exists outside the uterus. This “misplaced” tissue can impact a woman’s family, career, sex life, fertility and her ability to carry out a normal life.
S: Women with endometriosis can experience horrendous pain – I luckily only experience this pain a few days a month, but there are women who experience this pain 24/7. I do plan on going off the pill when I am married, but as much as I long to be a mother, the fear of experiencing more pain worries me. The pain I feel is slowly worsening with each year. I am actually on a birth control that enables me to skip my period, but I still get strong pelvic pains every month, even though I experience no bleeding. My mom underwent a hysterectomy when she decided enough was enough and I am certain I will reach that point too. So when someone says they have endometriosis, be mindful! These women are living with a painful invisible illness.
T: The problem with having endometriosis is that there is still so much we don’t know and it effects everyone differently. When I had my surgery my surgeon found endometrial tissue covering my bladder and parts of my uterus and bowel. What a lot of people don’t know is that there is no cure for endometriosis, and even though it can be removed through surgery, it will ultimately grow back. Some women have up to six surgeries in their lifetime, which is not only expensive, but can take a devastating emotional toll. Keep in mind that someone doesn’t necessarily have to look sick to have a chronic illness.
Where It all Began
S: I can vividly remember the day it happened. I was 13 and ½ getting changed for gym class, when I saw it…I had gotten my period. I panicked. How could I get my period? I had no breasts, no body hair and was underweight (I weighed a mere 70 pounds!). There were more developed girls in my grade who still hadn’t gotten theirs. A friend offered me a pad and I attempted to put it on… I was so small that the pad didn’t even fit in my underwear properly.
For the next year I missed school regularly. I would only bleed for two days, but my pelvic pains were so excruciating, they lasted for days. Sometimes they would get so painful that I would throw up from the pain. My mom, who experienced a similar struggle and eventually had a hysterectomy because of it, took me to the doctor. And at the age of 14, I was placed on birth control (try explaining that one to your dad ha ha!).
Over the next few years I continued to miss days of school and regularly went to the doctor to explain my discomfort. Every time I was simply prescribed another birth control. Every time I was led to believe that this pain was normal for girls my age and would get better as I got older. I eventually stopped talking about my pain all together, and suffered in silence. Finally, in a doctor’s office at a university clinic, I was taken seriously. Later on that year I found out I had endometriosis.
T: Like Shari, I can also remember the exact moment I got my period for the first time, it was after school and I was standing in the line at McDonalds, my legs were aching horrendously. I thought I must have over worked my muscles in gym class earlier that day, but when I got home and went to the bathroom, I had gotten my period. I was 14 years old, already quite developed for my age, and all of my friends had already gotten their periods. I remember being excited that I had FINALLY gotten mine! The excitement didn’t last long because every month for years afterward my pain got increasingly worse. The worst day for me was lying on the kitchen floor, screaming out to my mother because I was in so much pain, I was convinced I would pass out or vomit everywhere.
Luckily for me, my mum also has Endometriosis, (she had a hysterectomy when she was 42) so she taught me to be persistent with doctors when they told me there was nothing wrong. I then met a doctor who told me it was 90% likely I had endometriosis just like mum. I tried going on the pill, changing my diet, exercise and a cocktail of pain killers before I decided enough was enough and I paid for surgery. I was 24 years old when I had my laparoscopy, hysteroscopy D+C.
S: After years of experimenting with birth control, horrific pelvic pain, unbearable bloating, extreme moodiness, bowel issues, inconvenient breakouts and fearing infertility. I have learned to become a woman comfortable in her own skin. There are still days where I am curled up in fetal position on the bathroom floor, and prescription painkillers won’t bring any form of relief. But, I’ve learned to not let those days define me.
I think for many young women with endometriosis, the only thing worse than the pain is the guilt, the guilt that comes from the possibility of being infertile. My mom had all of her children by the time she was 23, and any further attempts to conceive again were unsuccessful. She then found out she had endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. The thought of infertility scares me a bit, as I’ve always imagined being a mother, but I am luckily marrying someone who is extremely understanding and reminds me everyday that things happen for a reason.
I hope that this brief outline of my own personal struggle encourages others to be more mindful of women around them. One out of every ten women has endometriosis. It’s time we spread awareness and end the stigma!
T: I try to keep a positive outlook! I have struggled lately with daily pain, it’s been four years since my surgery and I am right back where I started before I had it done. I am currently doing acupuncture, pelvic physio, and diet changes as a means to cope. I am still battling doctors who are pushing to put me back on the pill or try Lupron or Visanne, which are hormonal drugs with terrible side effects. I would be lying if I said some days I didn’t just want to give up!
One of my symptoms is being really tired all of the time, which I think is because there aren’t many days where I am pain free. The worst part for me isn’t the pain. It’s constantly discussing my fertility with doctors, friends, co-workers or even strangers. I’m 28 years old, and I’m sick of doctors telling me I’m going to end up infertile…so I should try to get pregnant now! I’m sick of people asking me what it’s like to be told I probably won’t be able to have a baby. I refuse to feel like a failure because women are “suppose” to have children. I’ve found peace and accept that it’s just not in the cards for me. Infertility is only a very small part of endometriosis, all I want is to live a happy mostly pain free life. Stop the stigma!
Special thanks to Shari from lunchboxblonde.com
If you think you or a loved one might suffer from Endometriosis check out http://endometriosisnetwork.com for more information.