If you’ve been to the blog before, you’ll know that WE GO THERE is all about giving you the facts, looking out for our readers, and trying to have fun while we’re at it! We write these posts as if we’re sitting on the couch with our best friends, wine in hand, getting to the bottom of the questions we’ve always wondered about.
In the spirit of WE GO THERE, we wanted to start a new bi-monthly series called “WHAT IS…”. In this series, we will take the time to really delve deep into a different illness or vaginal health related issue in each post, and give you the facts you deserve to know. As always, make sure to consult your doctor if you have any concerns about topics we present on the blog, as these posts are not meant to be taken as medical advice.
For our first post in the series, we’re going to talk about endometriosis.
So, what is endometriosis?
According to Laura Briden, a naturopathic doctor and author of Period Repair Manual, endometriosis is a whole body inflammatory disease that generally takes about 10 years to be diagnosed. The basic idea of this condition revolves around bits of tissue similar to the uterine lining growing in places other than the uterus. The tissue can grow on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or pelvis, along with other areas of the body like the bladder and bowels.
What does it look like?
Pain is the main symptom of endometriosis. There is a big difference between normal period pain and endometriosis pain, so don’t start self diagnosing because of your monthly lower back ache. Endometriosis pain can be brutal, with life-altering implications. It can occur anytime throughout the cycle and doesn’t improve with over the counter painkillers. It can get so bad that women become bed-ridden during the pain, and can even cause vomiting. Interestingly, endometriosis pain can happen in your legs, bladder, rectum, or uterus. Other non-pain related symptoms include bladder and bowel issues, abdominal bloating, bleeding between periods, infertility and recurrent miscarriage, headache, low-grade fever, and nausea and vomiting.
Is there a cause?
There isn’t an agreed upon cause for endometriosis, but there is a growing consensus that your immune system plays a huge role. The condition shares similar features as other immune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers also agree that endometriosis is not a condition caused by lifestyle factors, meaning that a woman with endometriosis did not develop the disease because of something they did or didn’t do. This is reinforced by the fact that endometriosis seems to be genetic, with a daughter having a high likelihood of developing the condition if her mother has it as well.
What’s the bottom line?
Endometriosis is an “invisible” illness that is incredibly hard to diagnose, and there is currently no cure. There are treatment plans people can follow that ease the symptoms, but overall it can be a very challenging condition to live with. It’s also a condition that 1 in 10 women have, but is very rarely talked about (probably because it’s so hard to get a diagnosis in the first place). If you want to learn more about what life with endometriosis is like, check out Lara Parker’s posts for Buzzfeed in which she frequently writes about living with endometriosis.
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