Life with Endometriosis: A Disease That Affects 700,000 Australians
Extreme pain, nausea, vomiting and even infertility. These are just some of horrible symptoms of a disease that affects more than 700,000 Australians—It’s called Endometriosis or endo for short. This terrifying disease occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in locations outside of the uterus. While endometriosis usually affects the reproductive organs, it can also be found in the bowel, bladder, muscles, joints, lungs and even the brain. This causes severe complications all throughout the body.
Typically sufferers of the disease only experience symptoms before or during menstruation, common symptoms include excessive pain, bloating, nausea, bleeding and fatigue. This means that people with endo often have to skip school and work due to the debilitating effects. But it gets worse. For some people, endometriosis has ravaged their bodies and the effects can be felt everyday of their cycle, not just when they are menstruating. Severe symptoms include constant pelvic, back and leg pain, bleeding between periods, bowel and bladder problems, chronic fatigue and infertility. Sadly endo is taking a toll on many people’s lives and currently there is no cure…
To make matters worse there is an average 7 to 10 year delay in diagnosis for endometriosis. It is still unrecognised by many people and the normalisation of period pain means that more often than not, sufferers are left in the dark. The only way to properly diagnose endometriosis is to undergo a laparoscopy surgery and have a biopsy taken. Tissue that is thought to contain endometriosis is removed and sent to a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis.
Although there is no cure for the disease to date, there are a few options and treatments that can help or reduce symptoms.
This can be effective for reducing the pain experienced for endometriosis but if pain is extreme this method may not be successful. Some painkillers have health risks and this method does not fix the root cause. Always speak with a health professional on matters of pain control.
This can reduce the number of periods or stop them completely which in turn reduces pain and other symptoms that are experienced during menstruation. Some are contraceptive and side effects include possible weight gain, moodiness and acne. It is not guaranteed that endo symptoms will stop after this treatment. Furthermore, you shouldn’t get pregnant while on the drug.
Can reduce or stop periods completely therefore reducing symptoms. You should be aware of the side effects such as nausea and weight gain
Some endometriosis can be removed or treated during surgery however it may not cure the pain. 30% of people experience recurring endometriosis post surgery.
No periods means that there are less endometriosis symptoms and this tops endometriosis growth in most cases. However, you must be aware of the side effects which include hot flushes and bone thinning when used for more than 6 months. Symptoms may recur when treatment is stopped and it may not fix the pain.
Hysterectomy (removal of uterus)
For 90% of people this achieves a long-term cure but as with any surgery there are risks involved and this also removes fertility. In some cases it may not fix the pain.
It is very important to go through all the options available to you so you are well aware of what it entails and the risks involved.
hannahpad co-director Jenny shares her experience living with endometriosis.
Before starting hannahpad Australia and New Zealand, I worked for an airline as a cabin crew then a cabin crew manager. I distinctly remember having emergency leave or calling in sick for my flight duties due to the extreme period pains I was experiencing. With each passing year it seemed as though the pain was increasing in intensity and became unbearable. Often I had to go into the emergency room so I could try and ease the pain. Back then, I thought the pain was common for cabin crew members as our hectic flying schedules may have interfered with normal functioning of the body. During this time I realised that I experienced less irritations and cramps while using organic disposable pads. It made such a huge positive difference on my body. On the topic of bad cramps, a friend then suggested I try out organic cloth pads (specifically hannahpads) as they could further ease my pain and discomfort. Amazingly, the first time I used these cloth pads I didn’t experience the excruciating pains I endured previously. This was my aha moment and I began doing research on cloth pads.
I then went for a pap smear and check up where my gynaecologist delivered the news that I had endometriosis and was the reason for the unbearable pain I had time and time again. I was horrified of the word: endometriosis. But it is one of the most common diseases in the world when it comes to gynaecological issues, and thankfully there are many ways to cope with the symptoms. Pain tolerance differs from person to person and although my endo isn't severe, since using certified organic cloth pads I've noticed a significant difference with my monthly cycle. I became more aware of myself; I could feel the changes in my body and look after my body when it needs some TLC. Switching to cloth pads was one of the best decisions I made and was what lead me to change my career from a cabin crew member to now a business owner helping other people regain control and confidence over their menstrual woes.
Jenny is finally healthier and happier as she continues on her toxin free journey living in Melbourne, Australia.
Endo Self- Care
Aside from the conventional treatments listed above, leading a healthier lifestyle can also help reduce symptoms. It's important to delve deeper into the matter of long-term stress and hormonal imbalance by caring for yourself from the inside out. Support your body and improve symptoms with the following healthy habits:
Eliminate Toxins from Your Life
It's a toxin filled world we live in today which is contributing to people's ongoing failing health. Therefore, it's time to consider switching to healthier more natural alternatives for things that touches the skin.
- shower products
- skin care and cosmetics
- menstrual, maternity and light incontinence products
- laundry products
Begin detoxing the above with natural and organic options.
Detox your period, maternity, light incontinence products with hannahpad's certified organic cloth pads.
Choose to eat clean with a well-balanced diet by staying away from foods with additives, preservatives, pesticides and processing. The key is eating fresh fruits and vegetables with whole grains, low sugar, salt and fat. You may also want to think about eliminating some animal protein or dairy that could cause inflammation to see if there's any improvement.
Increase your intake of vitamin B complex (specifically vitamin B6), calcium, zinc and essential fatty acids to reduce bloating and inflammation all associated with endometriosis.
This can be tough at times when you're not feeling like getting active but stick to some form of exercise and it benefits the whole body. Consistent exercise improves circulation thus then relieves symptoms. Specific yoga poses or light exercise focused on the lower back and pelvic area are fantastic for taking the edge off the pain. Moving in some way for just 30mins 3-4 times a week is all it takes.
Muscle tenses up when you're in pain and this can exacerbate the symptoms of the disease. Learn how to relax during episodes of pain with some deep breathing and focus on relieving the tension from the top of your head to tips of your toes. Do these breathing and tension releasing exercises in a warm, cozy place with your eye closed to reach full relaxation.
If you are suffering with endometriosis know that you are not alone, there are thousands of other people on the same journey with you. Let’s raise awareness about this disease and hopefully together we can find a cure that will bring life back to the hundreds of thousands of endometriosis sufferers! Time for Action on Endometriosis in Australia. Finally.
If you are experiencing unusual symptoms during menstruation or your periods are starting to negatively affect your daily life please seek a medical professional.