What is Endometriosis ?
We're here to discuss a topic close to my heart (or my vagina ! HA ! ) : Endometriosis. Brace yourself! This is going to be a heck of a long article ! :)
As you may already know, I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2019. To be honest, it wasn't much of a surprise.
I'd been experiencing excruciating pain since my first period. That's to say, a while back !
I'm going to share with you my struggles with endometriosis.
I'm sure some of you are familiar with it and maybe a few suffer from it as well?
If so, I feel your pain, literally!
Endo in a Nutshell:
- 1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis. This is solely based on women who've been tested. This figure is reckoned to be much higher!
- 70% of diagnosed women suffer from severe chronic pain, some need morphine just to get out of bed in the morning.
- 40% of diagnosed women will have difficulties conceiving.
- Number of cures = 0. But there are "alternative" treatments (like the birth control pill) and labs are working on a cure ! THERE IS HOPE !!
So now that we've discussed everything about endometriosis EXCEPT what it is; let's deep dive (definitely not the best visual, sorry!).
What does endometriosis do to you ?
The effects of endometriosis vary from one person to the next. The only unifying fact : it impacts people with vaginas !
However, there are a number of common symptoms :
I suffer from heavy menstruation, painful intercourse, pelvic pain and menstrual cramps. They should also have listed that it can also have an impact on your back ! Could be worse, right ?
SO... What IS Endometriosis ?
**I understand this is A LOT to take in ! I needed a min to wrap my head around it the first time I heard about endometriosis. You're not alone ! **
Endometriosis is a chronic condition, caused by the development of islets of tissue, similar to that of the endometrium. Say what ?
Let's break it down:
The Endometrium (Endo = Internal, Metrium = Womb) is the internal lining of your uterus (see below). That's the part that sheds every month, during your period, creating blood loss.
This endometrial tissue, the cells that make up the endometrium (internal uterus lining), sometimes migrate and implant themselves in other parts of the body.
The most common parts they set camp on, outside of the uterus are: The Ovaries, the Fallopian tubes and the uterine ligaments (connect the uterus to the ovaries).
But they can also spread to the rectum (yep trying to stay polite, but we mean the anus/butt!), bladder, intestines, bladder... You name it.
Here is what it could look like :
Every month, as your uterus bleeds during your period, the endometrial cells that migrated to different organs, mimic the uterus and start bleeding as well.
These micro-bleeds, create blood accumulation, that your body and the different organs they are placed on, cannot eliminate. It results in creating intense inflammatory reaction, sometimes deteriorating the organs the endometrial tissues are on. Fun, right ?
For some women, that also leads to those horrible cramps and not solely during their periods.
There are no agreed upon causes for endometriosis, only hypotheses that have yet to be proven. I won't go into detail on this. If you'd like to read more on these, here are a couple of great links :
- Endometriosis: What causes it and how is it treated?
- Endometriosis.org : causes
- Endometriosis, Planned Parenthood
How to alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis ?
As mentioned, there is currently no cure for this condition, but we do have alternatives to help us.
I've been taking the birth control pill and it's definitely alleviated my pains. By partially stopping the bleeding, it's helped me lead an easier, more normal life ! That's a win !
Also, following the advice of a number of articles, blogs and testimonials, I changed my diet. There again, nothing has been confirmed, but consuming little to none of these foods has definitely helped me :
- Processed sugar (cookies, sweets ...)
- Saturated fats (Red meat...)
- Alcohol (Wine, please!)
- Coffee (Yep, I've cut back on my usual 3-4 daily cups. Down to 1 now)
- Gluten and dairy (As a proud and stereotypical French woman, this is by far the hardest part for me! I need my baguette, my cheese and my butter!)
What's left to eat ? Well, great things actually. Ask around your gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan friends!
They've introduced me to delicious recipes that fit with my new diet.
Some accounts I resort to, for endo-friendly recipes:
How do you "officially" get diagnosed with endo?
Well, that my friend, is a great question!
Self-proclaiming you have endometriosis is all well and all, if you are a doctor, but otherwise, you should look into the following:
This test creates images of the inside of your body. To capture the images, a device is either pressed against your abdomen or inserted into your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound).
Both types of ultrasound may be done to get the best view of your reproductive organs. A standard ultrasound imaging test won't definitively tell your doctor whether you have endometriosis, but it can identify cysts associated with endometriosis (endometriomas).
An MRI is an exam creates detailed images of the organs and tissues within your body. You are slide into a big ass machine and their pretty much take internal body pictures. This is usually the way most endometriosis are diagnosed. It's less intrusive. However, sometimes, endometriosis hides or only shows up on these internal pictures, when triggered. So sometimes,
In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a surgeon for a procedure that allows the surgeon to view inside your abdomen (laparoscopy). While you're under general anesthesia, your surgeon inserts a laparoscope, looking for signs of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.
A laparoscopy can provide information about the location, extent and size of the endometrial implants. Your surgeon may take a tissue sample (biopsy) for further testing. Often, with proper surgical planning, your surgeon can also remove the endometriosis during the laparoscopy so that you need only one surgery.
Don't go around proclaiming you have Endo, if you weren't diagnosed.
Not trying to be a drag here, but if you are not sure you have endometriosis, please don't go around telling people you do.
Why? Because you invalidate the ones that actually do.
Don't get me wrong: if you think you have it and are looking for info, reassurance, anything that can help you, please feel free to ask around!
However, if your sole goal is to bring attention to yourself, please don't!
Hear me out:
I thought, for the past 15 years, that my pains, back problems, painful sex etc... were maybe not as bad as they actually were.
Maybe what I was going through was normal.
Maybe, being a woman meant suffering excruciating pains and fainting monthly.
Maybe, it sometimes meant being out of breath, after a 2 min walk, during the first day of met monthly bleed.
Maybe, sex was sometimes excruciating painful and that was completely normal, for most people ?
Every time I mentioned my symptoms to people, on the topic of periods, either my pains were dismissed with a simple "Really ? I'm surprised, I don't feel a thing." or a "yeah, me too. You know, I guess it's just how it's supposed to be".
I spoke about it to my different OBGYNs, thought out the course of 15 years.
None seemed alarmed and without a second thought, prescribed me with the pill.
Fast forward 15 years, I suddenly started hearing about endometriosis.
I brought it up with my new OBGNY, a year ago. For some reason, she actually acknowledged it could explain my symptoms. A couple of weeks later and an MRI down, that was it. I had Endo.
I was SO relieved. I had a condition. My pain was valid. This was NOT normal. My back pains, my fainting, hurtful sex etc... all of this was due to 1 thing : Endometriosis.
When I started mentioning it, women left and right were throwing it around, as if the entire female population suffered from it. Still my condition was not recognised as serious or invalidating.
Please let women with this condition at least have that for them. Just the acknowledgement that their condition is real. Their condition is serious. Their condition is invalidating and can have a serious impact on their daily lives.
Please respect them, us and our pain.
How does endometriosis have anything to do with Peachyness ?
Well, taking the pill means also having to deal with its side effects. For me, it was... (occasional) vaginal dryness.
I started looking for products that would relieve my vulva. I was pretty particular. I didn't want to resort to a medical treatment as the dryness wasn't too bad, and I didn't want the product to contain hormones and nasty ingredients.
I was looking for an organic, vegan & eco-friendly option - why not try and care for the planet as well, right ? - that I could apply often, even daily when the dryness was more persistent.
I had the hardest time finding it. And that's how the idea of Peachyness was born. A Vulva Balm that:
- Relieves irritation, redness, dryness, and chafing.
- Is made from a short list of Organic ingredients
- Lists ingredients we're familiar with ! (We shouldn't have to study biochemistry to know what we're applying to our bodies !)
- Can be applied as often as your face cream !
And TADAAAA, introducing the Vulva Balm !
Subscribe to the newsletter to keep posted on its launch !
Just in case you want a little more info on the endo vocab :
Uterus: Main organ of the female reproductive system: it is a hollow muscular organ intended to receive the fertilized egg and to expel it when it has reached maturity. The gestation organ.
Endometrium: Mucosa lining the cavity of the uterus. The development and regeneration of the endometrium requires the action of two hormones secreted by the ovary: oestrogen and progesterone.
Adenomyosis: Endometriosis known as “internal” and localized in the myometrium.
Myometrium: muscular wall of the uterus
Because a video is worth a thousand words (for our french speaking audience):
And that's a wrap Peaches !
So excited you stayed with me through out this long read.
We love testimonials and feedbacks so PLEASE share !