What I wish I’d know about endometriosis
It’s Endometriosis Action month and so I decided to share my own endo journey and some of the things I wish I’d known at the peak of my endo symptoms. I used to keep quiet about having endometriosis as I didn’t want to be defined by my endo symptoms, but I’ve realised how important it is to share experiences to help other endo warriors who may be at the beginning of their endo journey.
Painful periods are not normal
My own endo journey started as a teenager when I had heavy, painful periods. My Mum used to send me off to school with paracetamol hidden in my lunchbox to get me through the day and I just accepted it as normal. It was only when I was at university and my pain had progressed to two weeks of every month and I’d end up in bed with pain that a friend convinced me it was not normal and encouraged me to see a GP. You may get mild cramps during your period, but intense pain where painkillers are not helping and it interferes with your daily live is never normal, so do reach out to your GP or an alternative health practitioner for help.
You may need numerous GP or gynaecologist visits to get a diagnosis
When I first saw a GP about my pain, I was really hopeful that they would help. However, they didn’t diagnose the problem and just put me on the oral contraceptive pill to manage my symptoms. I yo-yoed on and off the pill for years as I always got some side effect, and it didn’t really make a massive difference to my symptoms. In fact, it took ten years of GP visits with increasing levels of symptoms before I was referred to a gynaecologist and diagnosed with endometriosis. Keep making appointments, asking questions and pushing for help – ten years is too long to be left in pain and I was desperate to get my life back and do the things my friends were doing rather than being at home on the sofa with my hot water bottle. This condition has a massive impact on your quality of life, your physical and mental health and relationships, so you need to get help as soon as you can.
Not everything the GP tells you is always right
Prior to having endo, I always had faith in GPs and that they would be able to help me if I was ill – sadly I lost that with endo. I have nothing against GPs and there are some great ones around, but there are also some who don’t understand endo and can fob you off. Before I got diagnosed, I got told by different GPs “have a baby – that will sort everything out”, “that’s just how things are for some women” and “maybe you should try anti-depressants”. None of these options were true or would have helped with endo. I was desperate for some help and felt so despondent and frustrated when I came away from appointments feeling like the GP did not understand the symptoms or could offer any help. It can feel hard to keep going back to the GP and pushing for the help you need when you are struggling just to get through the day, so sometimes taking someone with you can help.
All those other strange symptoms you get are probably related to your endo
People often ask if some of the other symptoms they experience could be linked to their endo, and very often they are. Endo is a whole body disease, not just something that affects the reproductive organs and so it can cause a host of other symptoms. Bloating, extreme tiredness, low mood, irritability, IBS, breast tenderness, headaches, bladder symptoms and a poor immune system can all be linked to hormone imbalances and endo. I certainly had all of that going on alongside the pain at the peak of my endo symptoms. The conventional medical system often struggles to manage all the symptoms, or you have to be referred to different consultants who just deal with one symptom. Nutritional therapy takes a more holistic approach and works with whatever symptoms you are experiencing.
There are other options to hormone treatment
If hormone treatment works for you and gives you symptom relief that’s great. We are all different and respond to things in different way and there are no right or wrong answers in how you manage your endo. For me personally, I didn’t get on with hormone treatments as I got every side-effect going and my endo actually progressed whilst I was on them. At the time, I was told that hormone treatment was my only option and so I felt really stuck when it didn’t help. When I look back now, I realise that taking the pill was like putting a sticking plaster on my endo and it was not dealing with the underlying causes. I wish I had known then that there were other things I could try like homeopathy and nutritional therapy that were gentler on the body, didn’t cause side-effects and also helped to deal with the underlying causes of my endo rather than just trying to mask the symptoms.
My next blog will explain how I started to move forward from the peak of my endometriosis symptoms.
If you are interested in finding out more about how nutrition can help with endometriosis symptoms then download my free e-book Foods to Reduce Endometriosis Pain.
And if you would like some support with your own endo journey, then do book in for a free no obligation chat to talk through your options.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.