1 in 10: Laura's Journey to an Endometriosis Diagnosis
Endometriosis devastates the lives of so many, yet so little is being done to tackle it. Many of us are suffering in silence! My name is Laura, I am thirty-five, and I was sixteen years old when I started experiencing pain around my periods.
Doctors offered me the option of going on the pill to stop my periods. I was very young and never knew that this would still be such an issue almost twenty years later. As the years went by, I went back and forth to doctors with issues and I was often given painkillers. I would go back to just be given even stronger painkillers. I was even told I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and spent many years on and off of medications for it. One doctor even suggested it was all in my head.
Years had already gone by when I started to see a gynaecologist who told me that I was too young to be experiencing these issues, and it took even longer before I saw another one. Getting referred to a doctor was never easy, and I had encountered years of this struggle. This in itself is mentally hard because you do start to doubt yourself, even though your symptoms are very real.
By the time I finally was offered surgery for a laparoscopy to see if I had endometriosis, I had already had an emergency operation due to a burst cyst, as well as many internal and external scans. For most girls with endometriosis symptoms, being offered a laparoscopy is a dream. We all spend so many years fighting to be heard.
I am now thirty-five years old and have been fighting my fight for almost twenty years. I was finally diagnosed with Stage 3 Endometriosis. I remember lying in the hospital bed and crying when the doctor told me. Finally, I had confirmation that I wasn’t going mad and that it wasn’t in my head. I also found out that I had other issues on top of my endometriosis, which is always hard – even when you find out something you already knew deep down.
Many of those living with endometriosis face silent, unseen battles against the disease. I want to be a positive influence and show that this invisible chronic illness should be spoken about and knowledge should be shared. I don’t want this to be a taboo subject. I am doing all that I can to raise awareness of endometriosis so that others like me have more confidence to push to be heard and don’t suffer in silence.
Below is a list of common symptoms of endometriosis. If you experience any of these symptoms and already have concerns, please speak to a professional.
The main symptoms of endometriosis are:
pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period
period pain that stops you doing your normal activities
pain during or after sex
pain when peeing or pooing during your period
feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period
difficulty getting pregnant
You may also have heavy periods. You might use lots of pads or tampons, or you may bleed through your clothes.
For some women, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression.
(NHS, NHS, 18 Jan. 2019, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/endometriosis/.)
Always push to be heard – you know your own body better than anyone else.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Although approximately one in ten women are affected by this condition during their reproductive years, diagnosis may be delayed by an average of up to twelve years since the onset of symptoms – which can begin alongside their first period (endometriosis.org). There is no known cure, but many chronic illness warriors are still working to raise awareness and advocate for others with endometriosis so that they no longer have to suffer in silence. You can follow Laura’s endometriosis journey on her Instagram @my_endo_story_lj.
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