My periods have always been extremely painful, yet I thought little of it since most people I knew who got a period complained about them. What I didn’t realize when I was younger was my pain was beyond what other people experienced. I had been told I was fine, I just needed to take Advil and put a heating pack on. Slowly the pain started to amplify so even Advil couldn’t fully get rid of the debilitating cramps and the largest Always overnight pads couldn’t hold all the blood my body released while I was sleeping.

Becoming concerned, my mom encouraged me to go to the gynecologist to go on birth control which she thought would help manage my pain. After seeing several gynecologists who brushed over my complaints, I spoke with a gynecologist at a top-rated hospital over Zoom. It took this gynecologist a few minutes to suspect I had endometriosis when my previous gynecologist considered the extreme pain I dealt with once a month an exaggeration.

While most people have heard of endometriosis, many believe it’s a rare condition when it impacts around 10% of women and other individuals with a uterus. Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to those in the uterus implant in different areas of the body, most commonly the pelvic region (World Health Organization). This causes inflammation which leads to scar tissue. Signs that you may have endometriosis include debilitating menstrual cramps, heavy blood flow on your period, headaches, back pain, irregular periods, pain with sex, and spotting between periods.

Endometriosis is under-researched considering it can affect around half of the population. Getting a diagnosis is difficult for people who may suspect they have endometriosis. The only definitive way to diagnose someone is to do a laparoscopy where a small incision is made in the stomach and a camera is sent down to get a view of the person’s uterus. While this is a day surgery and generally considered safe, it is still a procedure that can be very taxing on the patient. If the doctors find endometriosis cells, they will remove the cells by cutting them out and viewing them under a microscope to see if the cells are endometriosis cells.

While a laparoscopy is the only way to get a confirmed diagnosis, it is also one of the only ways to help with endometriosis pain. Other options include using hormonal birth control such as the pill, the patch, the shot, or an implant to control your hormone levels and having a hysterectomy which is when a person’s uterus is completely removed from their body. While removing a person’s uterus and hormonal birth control help to manage the pain, they are not solutions or a cure. Birth control helps to balance out a person’s hormone levels which can reduce pain from menstruation while the removal of the uterus from a hysterectomy would remove parts or all of the endometriosis. A hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis either since the clumps of cells can move anywhere in the body, making the condition so difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, endometriosis can cause infertility from the scar tissue-turned lesions that will be created in a person’s pelvic region.

People suffering from endometriosis deserve better than their pain being diminished and brushed off by their doctors. They deserve more than to lose their fertility and have to sacrifice their work and social lives because of this condition. And most of all, endometriosis deserves to be researched and invested in to find better treatment options for patients who continue to suffer.

If you think you may have endometriosis, contact your gynecologist and bring your concern up with them. Don’t be afraid to push back if they immediately invalidate your concerns. It’s your body and you have the right to an answer why you are in pain. Periods are not supposed to be so painful that you cannot continue your day.

Works Cited

“Endometriosis – Symptoms and Causes – Mayo Clinic.” Mayo Clinic, 12 Oct. 2023, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656.

World Health Organization: WHO and World Health Organization: WHO. Endometriosis. 24 Mar. 2023, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis#:~:text=Overview,period%20and%20last%20until%20menopause.

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