Endometriosis is an illness that affects 1 in 10 women in Australia and 176 million women worldwide.
This is how some of those with it feel…
"I feel exhausted; I am emotionally and physically drained from the constant pain."
“It’s not just the physical pain that woman experience it’s also the emotional trauma that comes with Endometriosis that no one is prepared for.”
"Imagine 24-7 constant pain that is stabbing, squeezing and cramping, in your pelvis, lower back, legs and hips- with total bowel and bladder dysfunction."
What is it?
Endometriosis Australia explains that it is when “the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) occurs outside this layer and causes pain and/or infertility”. Sadly, it is still not known why this happens nor is there a cure.
Some people say a hysterectomy will fix it but this is not the case. This may relieve symptoms but the endometriosis may come back. There are treatments including medical, surgical and complementary medicines. However, as with any medical treatment it comes at a cost.
Over the years, endo has been getting more attention with women speaking out about their experiences. I am proud to be one of those.
I am 32 and have Stage 4 Endo, the worst you can get. For 8 long years, I battled painful periods, nausea, bowel problems, back pain and headaches. In that time I had countless doctors appointments, scans, x-rays and emergency department visits trying to get a diagnosis for my illness.
My mother had endo, as did her sisters, so there was a likely chance I’d have it. It is not just the physical pain, but emotionally you suffer. You question if it could just ‘be all in your head’ and become exhausted from pain, not to mention the impact on your work and social life.
At 26 I had my first laparoscopy and joined the Endo Warrior Club. The endo had latched itself to my uterus and bowel and was starting to grow on my kidneys. I remember the doctor holding his hands up in the air describing the amount of crap pulled out of my belly as the size of a basketball! Right now, I am feeling the best that I ever have. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and acupuncture has reduced my symptoms dramatically.
However, some are not so lucky.
Some are struggling to go to work.
Some are struggling to have a baby.
Some are struggling to pay the medical costs.
Some are struggling to get out of bed.
Some are struggling with mental demons wanting to end it all.
A study by the Uni of Sydney in 2017 found that endo costs the Australian economy $7.7 billion each year, two thirds of which is due to lost productivity.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and on March 24th, the Worldwide EndoMarch is on. This is a huge campaign to raise funds & awareness of endometriosis through events held across the globe.
Endometriosis Australia are hosting High Teas across Australia to raise awareness and education about endo and raise funds to help with research.
There is a High Tea happening near you, or if you cannot make it, you can host your own. All of the details are available here.
Shannon Cohn, the director of the movie ‘Endo What?” sums this up perfectly. “Endometriosis isn’t a woman’s issue. It is a human issue. It affects all of us”.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. They have access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.