Periods Shouldn’t Hurt
I’ve been wanting to write a blog on endo for a while. They (whomever “they” are) say the guideline for choosing a blog topic is to pick something you have mentioned to at least 3 clients. I talk about endo so much, I forget that most people have never heard of it. I can talk about endo with 3 clients in one afternoon. I, a master’s level therapist in a teeny, tiny practice in the middle of the country, know more about endo than at least half of the primary care doctors. So yeah, I should probably write a blog about it.
Let’s start off with explaining what endometriosis (or endo) is. Endo is a disease in which endometrial tissue (which belongs inside the uterus) ends up in other areas of the body as lesions and internal bleeding, impacting multiple systems. The most common being gastrointestinal, bladder, ovaries, nerves, abdominal muscles, pelvic muscles, and diaphragm. It can lead to dysfunction to all the body parts I just listed above and chronic pain.
Now, when I titled this blog, I should have added an asterisk. Periods are uncomfortable. I should amend that too and say, the entire menstrual cycle is uncomfortable, because ovulation and the luteal phase (roughly the week prior to your period) can come with their own annoying symptoms. We are told in health class, by our mothers and grandmothers, by culture that periods are painful, and it is normal. Normal is being uncomfortable and treating the symptoms with ibuprofen. Normal IS NOT being unable to work, attend classes, participate in hobbies, vomiting, shitting yourself, being unable to get out of bed, or having suicidal thoughts because nothing else will stop the pain.
And yet, at least 1 in 10 women not only experience what is not normal but will have multiple doctors tell them there is nothing wrong with them. It takes 8-10 years, on average, for people to receive an endo diagnosis. And in that decade, they have seen doctor after doctor, had multiple trips to the ER, been unable to work, drop out of college, lose friendships, and are not believed by family members. And even once someone receives a diagnosis, the treatment options are outdated, harmful, and can result in multiple surgeries, including unnecessary hysterectomies. The most effective option for treating the pain and the multiple systems dysfunctions is excision surgery. Which is often denied by insurance companies and is only performed by a handful of surgeons. Even with excision surgery, due to the delay in receiving a diagnosis and being unable to access (or afford) the surgery, many people are still left with chronic pain, infertility, and other dysfunctions because the damage done by the endo is so severe.
If you suspect you may have endometriosis because you experience period pain that isn’t addressed with OTC pain meds, have GI issues that doctors haven’t been able to explain, issues with urination, or pain with sex, let me be the first person who likely has said this to you: Your pain is real. Your suspicion that something is wrong is right. What you are experiencing is not normal. You are the expert of your body and I believe you.
Because it isn’t the fact that endo impacts over 190 million people worldwide and yet is grossly under researched. It is also not because women learn more about the disease from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok than their doctors. It is not even the gaslighting women receive from those same doctors, making them believe they are crazy and need psych meds and a therapist. All of that is par for the course in women’s health. No, I am passionate and angry about endo because the economic cost of this disease is up to $119 billion in the U.S. Most of that number is due to productivity loss. Every week I meet with women who can’t work, who miss work, who forgo promotions, who can’t attend college, who struggle to graduate high school. These women are fucking brilliant, creative, hard-working, passionate, and think in ways that could change the world. And yet, are forced to devote all that energy to getting through to the next day because the medical system is broken.
For more information, check out these links below. They not only have information, resources, passion, but also ways you can help those who are living with invisible disease.
Any information provided about medical matters is purely educational and the author is not a medical professional and is not recommending any specific intervention for any specific person or giving medical advice. Please consult your own medical provider for information about your own situation
This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not create any type of therapeutic relationship. For specific assistance, please consult your own medical and/or mental health provider.