When your womb rules your life…..

I can remember at the age of 14 feeling left behind by my friends as I hadn’t started my periods yet. Wishing I could go back in time and remember what life was like before as it’s been 22 (and counting) years of dreading what will come with each cycle!

I guess I thought I was ‘following’ on with the generations (my Mum also suffering) in the fact that periods and difficulties in starting a family was just ‘one of those things’. It wasn’t until I kept on at my GP and having access at the time to private medical care that I was able to investigate what was happening to me.

On average it can take at least 7.5 years to get diagnosed, it can be complex and different conditions such as IBS can be confused with endo. This was the same for me, at age 15 I was diagnosed with IBS but looking back it was the start of endo starting to rear it’s head.

1 in 10 women and those assigned female at birth in the UK have endo, so that probably means someone you know has this condition. Endometriosis can affect you from puberty to menopause, although the impact may be felt for life.

What is endo?

Endometriosis (pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is the name given to the condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.

During the menstrual cycle, the body goes through hormonal changes each month. Hormones are naturally released which cause the lining of the womb to increase in preparation for a fertilized egg. If pregnancy does not occur, this lining will break down and bleed – this is then released from the body as a period.

In endometriosis, cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body. These cells react to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleed. However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body. This can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue. Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a person’s life in a number of ways, including:

Thank you to the Endometriosis UK org website for the above information on – I would encourage you to visit their website to gain further information https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/whatendometriosis

I also have adenomyosis and PCOS, so 3 very challenging conditions which I try to not define me as a person. It’s really difficult not knowing what the future has in store in respect of having a family one day and also importantly how my life long term gynaecological health looks like.

I’ve always been really open with my family, friends and colleagues about what’s going on. I feel fortunate that one of the closest people in my life also has endo, this means we just get how we’re feeling when it’s very difficult for others to understand what it’s like.

Having an understanding manger or company supporting you can be a game changer. I would encourage all employers to have a good understanding of the condition. Encouraging open conversations where employees can talk about it in a safe space without fear of judgement is fundamental. For me agile working has been something that helps take the anxiety off if I’m having a really tough time during my period. My line manager is male and whilst I know he won’t feel what I’m going through, he’s able to support me in any way he can. I’m not asking for tea & sympathy, just someone who is able to listen and adapt to my needs.

I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it’s all fine when I’m constantly worried about the future and what it holds. I just try and take a day at a time, that’s all I can do. But I’m not alone and there is some fantastic support on offer, whether it’s support groups or just educating myself and others.

If you’re reading this and thinking some of those symptoms feel familiar, become your own advocate and go to your GP until you get some explanation. I don’t want you to suffer and wait any longer than you need to. My inbox is always open and please reach out to someone you can open up to if you’re struggling.

For those of you who are lucky enough to not have this condition, I hope this has been eye opening to something that effects 1.5 million people in the UK alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *