I was happy go lucky girl, well, that was until I started my menses. It was one of those bitter-sweet moments; YAY to the fact that I was not a girl but somewhat a woman but NAY for the pain. Adolescence is a rather strange phase, when you start your period, you are now a ‘woman’ but not yet an adult. If I had known that the monthly visitors would come with that much pain, I’d probably have petitioned the heavens for more time of freedom. I guess early blooming had its cons.
I remember when I’d go the school nurse to get painkillers she would draw for me the female reproductive system and begin to explain how the cramps come about. In retrospect, I think a motion image would probably have worked better than her using her hands for emphasis. Her explanation was so predictable, hmm, maybe it was because I paid her a visit several times, every month. The long story was her attempt to somehow convince me that the pain was normal, so I should (wo)man up and stop being so whiny.
It really made me wonder if the painful menses were preparation for the curse from the Garden of Eden, painful labor.
Since I didn’t have nausea during my menses I was made to believe that the pain was normal, in fact I was having it ‘easy’. It was just good ol’ PMS . Some women seemed to have it easier than others. However, the PMS theory begun to falter and could not explain why after a couple of years, the pain became even more unbearable. It would literally disrupt my schedule. For instance, one day I would be walking and I couldn’t walk anymore because there was a sharp pain in my abdomen at a different time during my cycle. After months of visiting the E.R, specialists and even having a surgery that was quite useless and misguided (story for another day), I found a doctor who finally made the diagnosis.
The diagnosis was Endometriosis.
“Endo what?” you may ask…Endometriosis (en-doh-mee-tree-OH-suhs)
Well in layman’s terms, it is a condition caused by the lining of the uterus known as the Endometrium growing outside the uterus and on other organs and structures in the body.
Endometriosis is most commonly found in the:-
- Fallopian Tubes
- Outer surfaces of the uterus
- Tissues that hold the uterus in place
- Lining of the Pelvic cavity
- Bladder Rectum
The main symptom of Endometriosis is very painful menses. These can be confused as just regular PMS, however if the pain persists, it is a good idea to seek medical advice.
Other symptoms include:-
- Chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis
- Pain during or after sex
- Intestinal pain
- Painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods
- Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
- Infertility or not being able to get pregnant
- Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods
Some times there is more to painful menses than the PMS theory. If you know anyone who suffers from period pain and any of the above symptoms, please encourage them to visit a gynecologist for a check up. There could be more to it than meets the eye.
**Endometriosis information courtesy of http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.cfm#a**