Endometriosis Is More Than A Bad Period
Telling others you have endometriosis can have several outcomes. Some may enquire “endo what?”, while others may respond with complete silence, unsure on what to say or ask. A few will bombard you with questions. However, there is one response that always leaves me speechless and somewhat deflated...
When someone tells me how they know someone else with “bad periods”, it's me who doesn't know how to respond. The issue with this kind of statement is that it over simplifies an illness that is already misdiagnosed and misunderstood by so many.
Endometriosis is so much more than a bad period
For more than a decade, every time I went to a doctor to complain about any discomfort, their conclusion was that I suffered from bad periods. No further tests were carried out. Frustrated, I would seek reassurance, repeating my symptoms, and asking the same questions. If pushed to elaborate, they would tell me it was probably stress and a tendency to suffer a bad case of menstruation. And that was it. No matter the degree of my pain, it was all very simple: just a bad period. I had to accept it and go home.
Having this dismissive diagnosis for years, with no line of treatment, led me to self-medicate and regularly take painkillers that were too strong for my gut. I now live with the consequences of that.
Endometriosis takes too long to diagnose
It’s no surprise to hear that it takes an average of 7.5 years to diagnose endometriosis. That's almost a decade of fertility issues, chronic pain, hospital stays, medical bills, and late night visits to the emergency room. How can a bad period be responsible for all of this?
A bad period can be any period. Endometriosis, on the other hand can mean any, several or all of the following: bleeding for weeks, period pain so extreme it leaves you bed-bound for days, losing so much blood it leaks through your tampons, pads, and clothes. An inability to focus, with “brain fog” so severe it prevents you from carrying out your job or being able to drive. Debilitating limb discomfort and pelvic pain so bad, it leaves its sufferers unable to walk. It can also involve infertility.
Women’s health issues have been dismissed for years
One thing is clear, bad periods don’t ruin careers, result in hospital stays, or require complex surgery. Grouping endometriosis within the bad period category not only encourages misdiagnosis, most worryingly, it also minimizes female pain. We live in a society that expects us to carry on, even when experiencing severe blood loss and debilitating chronic pain.
We need doctors, nurses and the people around us to stop reducing endometriosis to a bad period. Health professionals must listen to our symptoms and believe their severity. Most importantly, they must not dismiss us with an oversimplified diagnosis.
Look at your symptoms, believe that the pain you are in is unacceptable and definitively not normal. Seek the help you require and deserve. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably more than a bad period.
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