What makes you bend over in pain, while your abdomen feels like is being repeatedly hit with a baseball bat? What makes you bleed for days on end, sometimes weeks, until you are too exhausted to notice you are wearing your leggings inside-out, back-to-front? What renders you infertile, which is especially fun when people you barely know tell you to “start having kids, because you’re not getting any younger”? What cannot be cured and sometimes only temporarily relieved by the removal of your uterus and/or other organs? The answer to all of those questions is endometriosis, which is what I recently discovered I had, after years of being told “it’s probably just stress”.
One in 10 women in Britain suffer from endometriosis. That’s me, that one woman! Lucky me! 10% of women worldwide suffer from this condition, and that’s the group I’m in. I could have formed part of the 10% that make up women in the Forbes Billionaires list, but nooooo, I am in the Skint Ladies Club, with an uterus that is currently trying to kill me.
As I type this, I am drugged up, with a hot water bottle pressed against my stomach and more effed-up vibes than a starving hyena. Fun times. This is my life, because endometriosis is not just a case of having a bad period, it also means painful ovulation, chronic fatigue and surprise bleeding at any moment of the month. It can also involve chronic back pain, incontinence, nausea for days, regular bodily functions that become painful and, you guessed it, bloody, and the aforementioned, utterly welcomed and completely lovely, infertility.
Endometriosis is a painful and life-wrecking condition some gynecologists refer to as the “benign cancer”, because it involves cells acting like complete jerks, multiplying and appearing wherever they bloody well feel like.
So, why am I telling you this? Why am I filling your brain with dire images of pain and blood, guts and misery, just in time for the new season of Game Of Thrones? Because even though endometriosis is pretty common, it currently takes around 8 years to get diagnosed. It is my responsibility now, to not only take care of myself and find a way to manage my symptoms, but also to share what I know about this condition. Endometriosis needs further research, more specialists on the subject, and much more awareness.
So, the next time my handbag produces painkillers faster than you can say pill-popping-Jess, or notice me crouching ever so slightly while I try to have a conversation, you now know it’s not you, it’s my endometriosis.
Endometriosis, a real stuck-that-spiky-pole-up-my-arse-poke-my-eyes-out-with-a-red-hot-dagger condition, but also, reason #102 why women are, clearly, the stronger sex: there is no other creature in this planet capable of functioning at work, at the gym, at social gatherings, while driving, feeding families, sometimes while wearing high-heels, like an endometriosis sufferer on painkillers and suped-up hormones.