While most girls were buying their first Mary-Kate and Ashley novel (yes, I am a 90’s baby) at the age of 10, I bought sanitary napkins. It seems like my body was so excited by teenage novels that it decided to kick start puberty. Horrified as I was about being the only girl in class to be wearing a training bra, I now would bleed from between my legs every month for what seemed like an eternity (my mother told me it would probably last till I was 45-55).
Having regular menstruation for 16 years, I thought I had seen it all; horrible cramps, delayed periods, mood swings, constant bodily changes and all kinds of PMS symptoms. Thanks to my best friend Google, every time I would experience anything new or different, I would learn more. So, when I first started experiencing an extreme stabbing kind of pain in my pelvic region during sex, my first instinct was to Google it.
Google failed me, as it does with all medical diagnosis (please consult a doctor instead – trust me it will save you a lot of time and stress), so I decided to talk about it to my friends. I was informed that any kind of pain which can bring tears to one’s eyes is not normal.
After finding out that I should not be feeling like I am losing my virginity every time I have sex, I decided to give it a break for a while. Maybe that was what my body needed. That month I had experienced the most painful menstruation till date. I was used to period cramps and pain – I would even say I have a pretty good tolerance to pain – but I knew something was off when my period pain became worse than the time I fractured a bone. I still did not think this was enough to make a trip to a gynaecologist. Nope! It took having a very delayed visit from my frenemy one month to convince me that I needed an expert.
I was now sitting in my gynaecologist’s clinic waiting on my result, thinking of the last time I was this nervous for any result (it was probably my Sanskrit test.) After explaining my various symptoms in detail and going through a vaginal examination followed by internal sonography, I was informed that I had developed a condition called Endometriosis.
My reaction to this news was “Endo…what?” You see, that was the first time I had heard of this condition in my life. I would soon find out that I was not the only one, as many women and men have never heard of it.
Menstruation level unlocked: Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Well, here are the symptoms:
Pain areas: in the lower abdomen, lower back, pelvis, rectum, or vagina.
Pain circumstances: can occur during sexual intercourse or while defecating.
Menstrual: abnormal menstruation, heavy menstruation, irregular menstruation, painful menstruation, or spotting.
Gastrointestinal: constipation or nausea.
Abdominal: abdominal fullness or cramping.
Also common: infertility.
These are some of the basic symptoms that you will find when you Google the word endometriosis. Of course, by the time my doctor could finish explaining it to me, I had already discreetly looked it up online. I was then told about my options as there was no definite cure to this.
Option 1: Go through surgery to clear up the so-called chocolate cysts (however, they may reappear post-surgery).
Option 2: Go on a particular type of birth control which may slow it down.
Option 3: Have a child earlier than planned as this may clear it up and hope that it solves it.
As a 26 year-old unmarried woman, Option 3 was out of the question. Option 1 was for extreme cases, and mine was not one yet. Being a person who is genuinely scared of birth control pills due to its negative effects, I was very against it. This left me with no options. I finally decided on a different approach. After talking to my father, a Homeopathic doctor, I decided that this was the right approach for me.
Meanwhile, I continued doing my research on the matter, as to not let it affect my daily life. I educated my partner on my condition and we decided to try things to help us have a healthy and hopefully painless intimate life together. For many endo women, any kind of penetration can be extremely painful. Luckily for me, with the help of some good lubrication and particular positions, we were able to tackle this problem. I cannot stress enough on how important it is to have a sensitive and supportive partner to go through this with.
Dealing with endo pain during menstruation is probably the most difficult aspect of this condition. The pain during such flare-ups restricts you from doing anything on those days. Such days are spent in bed curled up with heating pads and painkillers. I often find myself planning my life around my menstruation now as I turn into a zombie for 3 to 4 days a month.
Human brains have a funny way of dealing with pain. Mine lets me forget all about my condition and its subsequent pain until the monthly visit from my frenemy. However, after a little more research on the subject followed by a couple of conversations with my doctor, I found out there might be more symptoms related to this condition that not many people like to discuss. Here are some:
-Endo brain fog
My journey with endometriosis is far from over, and I doubt it will get any easier ahead, but I will survive and proudly call myself an Endo Warrior (it really is a club).
This has been my journey with no endo in sight! (pun intended)