THE BIG 3: The Price of Being a Girl(I'm breaking down into simple terms what is THE BIG 3 and how can you help yourself: ENDOMETRIOSIS, OVARIAN CYSTS, AND FIBROIDS) By: MJ Louis, RN
Endometriosis affects millions of women yet still remains what
I like to call a phantom disease. Even with all our technological
advances it is very difficult to diagnose endometriosis without
actually cutting into you. At the age of 28 I was diagnosed with
endometriosis. But, I suspect that I had been suffering from
this debilitating disease since my teens. Due to this disease’s
allusive nature, millions of suffers, including myself, are told
it’s all in your head or it can’t be as painful as you’re making it
out to be. Endometriosis IS real and can be as painful as
childbirth. Endometriosis is not a fatal disease but the
unresolved suffering steaming from its symptoms can lead to
isolation and depression.
Endometriosis is a medical condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) appears and grows outside of the uterine cavity. The most common place where endometriosis is found is in the abdominal cavity involving the ovaries, bowel, bladder, and pelvic area. In some less common cases, such as me, the endometrium tissue is found outside of this region and migrates to other organs and joints. This displaced uterine tissue still behaves and reacts to hormones as if it was still in the uterus. In other words, when you are menstruating it menstruates as though it is still located in the uterus. This irritates the surrounding tissue causing the intense pain associated with endometriosis.
How the heck did it get there?!
There are several theories floating around as to the cause of endometriosis but none have been proven to be the definitive answer. One of the main hypotheses is called retrograde menstruation. In retrograde menstruation, menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. There is also thought to be a genetic component to endometriosis. You are ten times more likely to develop endometriosis if your mother or sister suffers from it (I guess that’s explains why my mother, sisters, and daughter all suffer from endometriosis). Hormonal imbalance also plays a crucial part.
PLACES WHERE ENDOMETRIOSIS CAN BE FOUND
Signs and Symptoms
The number one symptom of endometriosis is reoccurring pelvic pain especially but not limited to prior, during, and post menses. The intensity of the pain is not indicative of the extent of the endometriosis. Other common signs and symptoms include: Pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination, heavy periods or bleeding between periods, infertility, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and nausea.
Positively diagnosing endometriosis can be a tricky and grueling task. My symptoms reared their ugly head when I was only 15 years old but a positive diagnosis didn't come until I was 28. Currently, a doctor uses your signs and symptoms in combination with a pelvic exam, and/or a vaginal ultrasound to give you his best educated guess as to what ails you. A positive diagnosis can only be made by looking inside your abdominal cavity with a Laparoscope which is done under general anesthesia.
Help it hurts... Make it stop!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is NO CURE for endometriosis... Usher in the depression. It is a chronic illness. The conventional route of symptom management is with anti-inflammatory pain medications such as @ibuprofen, @Advil, and @Motrin (600mg 3 times a day when in crisis has worked very well for me); and hormonal therapies such as birth control pills, Depo-Provera, and Lupron (dramatically decreases estrogen levels in a very short period of time). (FYI: DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO INJECT YOU WITH LUPRON UNTIL YOU KNOW ALL OF THE FACTS!!!! Check out No T No Shade review on Lupron and Vitex)
As a last resort some women opt for surgery. The least radical route is conservative surgery involving the removal of the endometrial tissues leaving the reproductive organs intact. After the hell I suffered due to the Lupron surgery didn't sound so bad so at first I opted for the conservative surgery. Thanks to the skilled hands of my new GYN, I experienced 2 symptom free years. Unfortunately, the endometriosis returned with a vengeance bringing along its ugly cousins adenomyosis and ovarian cysts. This time around I wanted to just get it over with so I had a partial hysterectomy. Due to my age, a total hysterectomy was not offered to me.
By all means, I am not cured and pain free but I got my life back thanks to a skilled and honest doctor and natural remedies such as @Vitex, vitamin E, and fish oil.