Sorry for the late post - it took me a month to get my head around a topic that I would have liked to write about. Since last year, a lot has been said about women and what we have to go through in our every day life: harassment, sexism, disparity, unfair treatment and so on. There are countless ways in which our quality of life is affected negatively by our sex. Just have a look around, in the streets, workplaces and even just by our health. I’ve surprised myself - unfairly - feeling really annoyed at men because they would never know what we have to go through, even just physically, as women.
Today I would like to tell you about an illness that affects one woman out of ten: endometriosis. It is not glamorous, actually it isn't at all, but generally speaking women conditions usually aren't anyway. So let’s speak up, just as for anxiety and (early) quarter-life crisis, let’s make it okay to share what’s happening in our bodies to lift the weight on our shoulders.
Endometriosis is a long-term chronic condition that can significantly impact a woman’s physical health, emotional wellbeing and daily routine. For some women, symptoms can stop them from doing their normal activities and may lead to feelings of depression, relationship difficulties and affect fertility.
It can be difficult to diagnose because every woman experiences the condition differently, and because symptoms can be similar to other illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian cysts.
On average, it takes 7.5 years for a woman to be diagnosed with endometriosis. When you go to a doctor because of period pain, most of them will tell you insensitively that you are a woman, and that it's TOTALLY normal to feel pain and discomfort. Well, since recently women started to speak up about this illness, which is very badly known by the general public - men AND women - and I realised a few things:
1- Most of the time people will shrug off their period pain because it is supposed to be normal.
2- Doctors will prefer to give you unadaptive pills to regulate the pain rather than listening to what you truly feel and do further research to understand the problem.
3- When you talk about periods, people are very often disgusted - which makes it even harder for women to speak up about their pain.
4- Sadly, it’s only if and when the diagnosis is made that people treat you seriously, otherwise.. You know, you’re just an extra sensitive woman that can’t handle her womanhood.
I’m not a stranger to the situation. I’ve been going from one specialist to another since I was 17, trying to find out why my body isn’t working ‘normally’. I’ve changed three times my pill, with three different hormones mixtures and no improvement. Just imagine the mental and physical consequences. And compared to others, I am lucky. It ended up that there is no ‘normality’, especially when it comes to period and endometriosis. And after nearly five years, I am still waiting for medical results to know what’s exactly happening in my body, and I am done being shy about it. This is a HUGE part of our lives and we cannot pretend like it doesn’t exist.
More must be done to recognise and understand the symptoms of endometriosis - or for that matter, any other chronic condition - and to encourage women to voice concerns about their health. No woman should suffer in silence.
To know more about the symptoms and the illness: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/understanding-endometriosis
Woman testimonies: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19995748/endometriosis-stories/