Tumbling Through the Rabbit Hole...
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Endometriosis (pronounced end - oh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is a condition where the endometrial cells lining the uterus migrate to other parts of the body. It is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems. Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity. 

An image of a uterus showing endometriosis adhesions

Every month a woman’s body goes through hormonal changes. 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 like 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.
The classic symptoms of endometriosis are: 
  • Painful periods
  • Painful sex
  • Infertility 

Women with the condition also report many other symptoms:

  •  Painful periods
  • Pain starting before periods
  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse 
  • Ovulation pain
  • Pain on internal examination
  • Leg pain
  • Back pain

  • Heavy periods with/without clots 
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Pre-menstrual spotting
  • Irregular periods
  • Loss of dark or old blood before a period or at the end of a period

Bowel and Bladder Symptoms
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain before or after opening bowels
  • Bleeding from the bowel
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Pain before or after passing urine
  • Blood in the urine (haematuria)
  • Symptoms of an irritable bowel – diarrhoea, constipation, colic

Other symptoms can include:
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Depression
  • Frequent infections such as thrush (candida)
  • Feeling faint/ fainting during periods

The majority of women with the condition will experience some of these symptoms. Some women with endometriosis will have no symptoms at all.

The amount of endometriosis does not always correspond to the amount of pain. Chocolate cysts on the ovary can be pain-free and only found as part of fertility investigations. A small amount of endometriosis can be more painful than severe disease. It depends largely on the site of the endometrial deposits.

All of the symptoms above may have other causes. It is important to seek medical advice to clarify the cause of any symptoms. If symptoms change after diagnosis it is important to discuss these changes with a medical practitioner. It is easier to put all problems down to endometriosis and it may not always be the reason. 
(Info found on Endometriosis UK website: www.endometriosis.org.uk

The reason for my blog, partly, is to share my experiences of living with endo and in that way hopefully raise awareness of the disease.

I would like to point out that I am not a medical practitioner and all of my musings and trials of different dietary changes and supplements are just that - personal trials. Some things work for me, some don't. They may not work for you and I strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor, especially if you suspect that you may have endo, before making any drastic lifestyle changes. 

I suffered for years (from my late-teens to my early thirties, really) from quite crippling and wide-raging symptoms.

It took me years to find the common denominator to my IBS-like symptoms, lack of immunity (I literally would get all the colds that were going), menstrual issues and general pelvic pain. I was prescribed various medications, which alleviated some of the symptoms, whilst making others just about manageable. It was really the pill that seemed to provide the most lasting solution, but that, too alas, was to wane, once I came off the stuff.

There were a few instances, years and years ago when I was again doing my Dr Google searches to find some answer to my symptoms (I was labelled a hypochondriac by friends and family and was starting to believe the label myself), when I came across some information on endometriosis. Since the only way to diagnose the illness was via laparoscopy and my symptoms were sort of manageable at the time, I left it at that. Had I been diagnosed back then, though, I probably wouldn't have left baby-making until so late (and we thought we were being so adult and responsible - ha!) and might be in a bit of a different situation than I am now. Like a mum. Or somewhere far further down our Fertility Treatment Path. But, hey, would-a-could-a-should-a. We live and we learn.

But if you, my dearest reader, have any of the symptoms described above, are in your twenties and are thinking "hmmm, I wonder..", please, please please go to see your doctor and have a chat. It's far better to know what you're dealing with early on (and sometimes laparoscopic surgery can actually bring real relief and alleviate symptoms) than being told in your thirties, that this little disease you've got may cause fertility problems. Please, take this from an ol' infertile, who wishes she had known better.