There is often a lack of connection and understanding of our bodies as women. The changes our bodies go through each month share an energy and connection with the world around us. When we spend time with other women, our cycles begin to align… A typical menstrual cycle is synced up with the lunar rhythm. If we are mindful of the changes our body endures and its connection to the environment, we can empower ourselves as advocates of our own health.
I’ve lived with debilitating menstrual cramps for as long as I can remember. As soon as I started my period at thirteen, I was immediately seeking the fetal position and was bed-bound one week out of each month. I used to think this pain was normal… That all girls experienced period cramps this awful. So I didn’t think too much of it.
As I reached my late teens, the cramps just got worse and worse. The pain was so sharp and so deep that it brought me to tears. I wasn’t sleeping… I couldn’t get out of bed to go to school. This is when I finally sought medical care – I just couldn’t take it anymore. My doctor at the time suggested I might have endometriosis but just put me on birth control, which would thin the lining of my uterus and prescribed Vicodin to help with the pain. It was simply a bandaid for a disease growing within me. And while it helped some, I still wanted answers about the endometriosis. After all, it can cause infertility and I’ve always wanted babies – so this was a big deal to me.
Years later, I was still having excruciating pain during and after sex and I knew I was ignoring something that my body was trying to tell me. So I decided to undergo a laparoscopic surgery and was officially diagnosed with endometriosis (unfortunately, the only way to diagnose endometriosis is by going in to look for scar tissue).
I was a bit frustrated with the confirmation that I had endometriosis all those years and it was left untreated. Birth control helped some but opioids were not the solution – they only delayed the care I actually needed. But this diagnosis taught me a valuable lesson… to listen to my body and not take signs and symptoms for granted. They happen for a reason. Our bodies are miraculous. They want to function correctly and if they can’t, they communicate through pain and discomfort. They are connected with nature and the world around us, but it’s up to us to remain in tune with our physical self in return.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside the uterus as well. The result is an abnormal proliferation of scar tissue that can grow on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other organs like the bowel and bladder. During my surgery, my doctor found tissue on the side of my uterus near my bladder. This makes sense, in hindsight, why I always got worse menstrual cramps when my bladder was full. The pressure and stretch of my full bladder exacerbated my symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS?
The most common symptom is abdominal pain. This can manifest as menstrual cramps, pain during and after sex (yikes), and pain with urination or bowel movements. This pain makes sense if you picture what an extra layer of tissue would do to the girly parts. Normally, during sex for example, the uterus and all its neighboring parts (fallopian tubes, bladder, etc.) are somewhat moveable… they can shift up, down, left, and right fairly easily while sex maneuvers them around. But with endometriosis, everything is a bit more stiff… It’s like the extra tissue creates a barrier that shouldn’t be there, and the result is pain.
Another potential sign of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant. This is due to damage of the ovaries and fallopian tubes by the abnormal scar tissue. I struggle with this aspect of living with endometriosis because I want babies soooo bad!! We just hope, pray, and think happy thoughts that Matty and I can conceive once we’re ready. There really is very little way to know my fertility prognosis unless we try.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you have been struggling with menstrual pain that is not alleviated with rest and over-the-counter medications (Advil, Aleve, etc.), you may want to speak to your doctor about the possibility of endometriosis. I am so grateful that I caught my diagnosis early so I can keep this in mind when I plan to get pregnant. My scope surgery and the removal of scar tissue has also alleviated most of my pain, so I’m glad I caught it early.
Listen to your body and getting to know it as well as you can. If you are in debilitating pain like I used to be, this may be your body telling you that something is up! No one should have to go through pain this bad. Listen to your signs and symptoms. They’re there to look after you.
All information is my personal opinion and is in no way medical advice or diagnosis.
Please consult your doctor if you have any questions regarding your health.