It’s already March and the first two months of the year have flown by. March “derived from the Latin word Martius (named after Mars, the Roman god of war). Martius was the name of the first month in the original Roman calendar”. To me, March is a strong month, a month that demands change and maybe that’s down to the two meanings of the word, but to march in March can be seen as more impactful. March has a focus on raising awareness for Women; advocating for better healthcare, equality; some of the consistent battles that women face. March is also a time where women can support one another more, unite together and celebrate achievements.
One issue I’m going to address is one that 1 in 10 women face which is the condition called Endometriosis. It’s international Endometriosis month and women will be joining forces and marching across the world, increasing awareness and highlighting the symptoms of this debilitating disease.
This is a condition everyone should know more about. We all have a female or people assigned female at birth in our lives – family, friends and even work colleagues. TO KNOW ABOUT IT is the first step in trying to understand what women with the condition are dealing with. Let me start by clearing your mind of the common misconception; it is not bad ‘period’ pains, period.
Now we have the word period (which some see as taboo) out of the way, we can now move on…
Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to the lining of the uterus are found elsewhere in the body. They attach themselves to reproductive organs, such as your fallopian tube and ovaries but they can attach to your pelvis, bowels, rectum, bladder and even beyond. Studies have also found endometriosis in the lungs,
Think, super than superglue, because these cells can adhere one organ to another but also prevent those organs from functioning properly.
So, what happens to these cells when your menstrual cycle is due? Exactly the same thing that happens when you have your period. The cells build up and breakdown only, these cells do not leave your body like the rest of your period does, these move around inside, binding and forming scar tissue, causing inflammation and pain… excruciating pain! Plus, the pain isn’t necessarily limited to when your menstrual cycle is due; because of the lesions, adhesions and scarring, it can also flare up between cycles meaning you can be in pain throughout.
The condition has an impact on your life physically and mentally with other debilitating symptoms holding its hand.
- It wreaks havoc on your digestive system, mental health and physical ability limiting you from functioning like a normal person – you forget what that feels like.
- It affects your personal life as well as your professional career – due to sick days many women with this condition have lost jobs or have had to leave because of the lack of support.
- It robs you of your sanity and happiness, you become a shell of the person you once were.
- It can cause complication with fertility due to the horrendous damage it causes.
Have a listen MP Alex Shelbrooke debating in Westminster last month on the impact of endometriosis and how people with the condition need better support in the workplace.
Westminster Hall debate: Supporting people with endometriosis in the workplace
Endometriosis lesions are benign and the condition is currently incurable. Treatment currently includes, strong pain medication, hormone treatment and surgery. They don’t know how it starts or how to end it and on average it takes around 7 years for a diagnosis; sometimes a lot longer. This is because of miss diagnosis; patients’ symptoms or pain being dismissed and not being taken seriously by general practitioners but also the lack of knowledge they have on the condition. This is why it needs more attention, more research, more teaching and more action!
- It has different stages and is diagnosed though a laparoscopy.
- It affects people differently
- Symptoms can flare up daily
- You can have an operation and be comfortable for a couple of months, or a couple years; each case varies.
- It’s an INVISIBLE ILLNESS
One thing is for certain, endometriosis sufferers have an abundance of resilience, strength, fight and a pain threshold like a super power, so if you hear them scream from pain, you better listen and know it’s something you never want to go through.
Listen. Learn. Support. March for Endometriosis
END THE SILENCE
END THE PAIN
If you know some one that is having excruciation pain like those mentioned above, take them to the GP and demand to have an investigation; don’t let them suffer in silence.
Local and nation advice is available through these resources below.