by Chloe Fenech
You’d think that a condition that affects 1 in 10 women worldwide would be something we’d know everything about. Sadly, the fact that this is an invisible illness, coupled with it relating to our *gasp* lady bits, means that most women with the condition suffer in silence. As March is Endometriosis month, we wanted to use the spotlight to share a few things women with endometriosis want you to know.
1. It’s Not Just a Bad Period
Tiredness? Bloating? Cramping? Nausea? We’ve all been there. But, for most women, these symptoms last a couple of days and come and go in a predictable fashion. If you have endometriosis, all you need to do is look at a piece of chocolate suspiciously and bam! You could be out of action for a week.
2. Menopause Doesn’t Mean You’re out of the Woods
Oh yeah, because menopause is something that everyone looks forward to. And anyway, depending on where you have endometriosis and how severe it is, an end to Aunt Flo doesn’t mean an end to your pain. Plus, no one’s wishing for hot flushes, mood swings and weight gain, so using it as some kind of consolation makes us want to cry.
3. Google Is Often Our Best Friend
It can be hard to find a doctor at 3am. But Google is always there validating your pain and checking off that new symptom. Oh, but here are 10 other things it could be, 9 of which could kill you. Thanks, Google…
4. Yes, We Tried That
“My friend does yoga every day and doesn’t have endo pain anymore.” “Have you tried eliminating gluten?” Whatever you suggest to us, whatever might have worked for you, your best friend or your neighbour’s cat, we’ve probably tried it.
5. When We Say We’re in Pain, We Mean It
Like women the world over when uncomfortable topics surface in the presence of others, we shut up. We hide our crippling cramps and the unbearable fatigue. Our pain threshold is higher than a medieval surgery patient as a result of what we have endure, but we struggle on through social occasions or, when things get really bad, we’ll make up excuses as to why we weren’t available that day. So, when we tell you we’re in pain, we don’t mean we’ve got a little twinge, we mean we can’t stand up any longer.
6. We Are A Walking Pharmacy
We all have that friend who carries around aspirin and antacids, just in case. But if you have endometriosis you’ll likely carry around the entire contents of your pharmacy wherever you go, “just in case”. Purse: check. Spare sanitary pads, painkillers (at least three different varieties), heat patches, Imodium, more spare sanitary pads, rescue remedy and a lipstick so at least you won’t look like crap too.
There is a literal army of women out there who deal with the reality of chronic pain without saying a word. Not only do they deserve more recognition for what they endure, they also deserve a space to talk about it openly without it being seen as an uncomfortable topic just because there’s a womb involved. By sharing some of the things that women with endometriosis want you to know, hopefully we can help to create a space on our island where women who suffer can be more open about the condition, helping the rest of us to be more supportive.
If you suffer from endometriosis, there’s a fab Facebook support group in Malta, you can also email them at [email protected]. For more real-life stories from real-life parents in Malta, visit our Island Parents section.