My name is Holly and I’m 25 years old.
In 2016, at the age of 22 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis after a long, 4-year battle for a diagnosis.
For those of you that don’t know; Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.
Each month these cells react in the same way as those in the womb (by breaking down and bleeding). However, unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape – causing inflammation, pain and scar tissue. As you can imagine, this can cause an endless list of problems including very painful periods, pain during or after sex, bowel and bladder problems, fatigue and issues with fertility.
My diagnosis, like many others, took such a long time due to the lack of knowledge and information provided by healthcare professionals.
For 4 years…
…I went back and forth between the hospital and doctor’s surgery wondering why I was in so much pain. I was terrified and not once was Endometriosis ever suggested as the cause.
The first thing that I noticed was the pain during my periods. They had always been painful and heavy, even from a really young age, but the older I got, the more unbearable they became. By the time I had hit my late teens, my periods would literally knock me off my feet and make me feel ill for days. In some cases, I wouldn’t even be able to stand up straight and my entire body would ache with pain.
However, I just assumed that they were normal – no one liked periods after all. They were supposed to be painful, right? So I went on suffering.
As my periods worsened, I also started to notice other changes with my body. The pain I was experiencing during a period began happening when not on a period too, sex had suddenly started to become very painful, my sugar levels were constantly dropping making me feel really unwell and my bladder had become really sensitive (I later discovered that all of these things were a result of Endometriosis wreaking havoc on my body).
As you can imagine…
…all of these things had a massive effect on my mental health and I began to obsess over my symptoms, writing everything down and spending hours online doing my own research. I finally came across an article about Endometriosis and knew straight away that that was my answer. It was from that moment that I was finally able to push harder for a diagnosis which eventually came after surgery in 2016.
What alarmed me the most was that despite Endometriosis being such a common condition, so little is known about it – leaving women like myself enduring agonising pain and other problems for years on end.
My journey for a diagnosis was long and painful and I promised myself that once I had a confirmed diagnosis, I would make it my mission to raise as much awareness as possible to ensure that other women didn’t have to go through what I did.
Unfortunately, the problems caused by Endometriosis do not always stop after diagnosis/surgery and its something that you have to battle with everyday. People often ask me what it is like to live with Endometriosis and for me personally, it means living with a constant worry.
I worry when I’m due a period and wonder how much pain I’ll be in.
I worry that my stomach is going to flare up if I eat certain foods.
I worry that one day I will struggle to have a baby.
I worry about needing more surgery.
I worry that I’m being a bad wife to my husband if one day sex is too painful to endure.
I worry that people will get fed up of me if I cancel plans due to feeling unwell.
The list goes on…
Endometriosis is something that has affected my life in ways that I can’t even begin to explain, and in the space of 2 and a half years, I have already undergone 2 surgeries with plans for a third. However, I’m determined to turn my pain into motivation for raising awareness to help other women. Raising awareness is so important and people need to know that it is OK to open up and talk about things like periods, sex and other body issues. If you think that you may have Endometriosis, please keep pushing for a diagnosis – it will come!