There are many reasons why girls and women experience pain and discomfort during menstruation, one of which is endometriosis. Endometriosis is a medical condition that is rather common in women, and yet it’s quite commonly misunderstood, not only by the general public but by the medical community as well. In fact, the actual cause of Endometriosis is still unknown (or is at least disagreed upon), so there remains no real cure for this "condition," just treatment of its extremely painful symptoms, which can include abdominal pain/cramping, infertility, internal bleeding, and even death.
Either way, what ends up happening is that the abnormal tissue continues to either grow or replicate itself during each period, creating a "web" of sorts around whatever it is attached to (usually the reproductive organs, which may result in infertility). Then, during the menstrual cycle, this tissue swells and bleeds, compressing whatever is in its web and causing extreme levels of pain.
I’ve had endometriosis for nearly twenty years. So far, these cycles of compression have managed to completely sever my right ovary and fallopian tube. Then, a few years ago my doctor thought my right kidney had been severed as well, but it was later located during surgery displaced and tied to my rib cage by endometrial adhesions!
Anyway, for many years endometriosis was treated with a complete hysterectomy, which minimizes the effects of the condition, but still does not always guarantee permanent results. Unfortunately, it also carries the risk of further complications and medical problems and is not a viable treatment option for women who are at risk for certain types of cancer.
Standard aftercare for a hysterectomy includes Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) or its equivalent, which is not an option for me with my family medical history. Estrogen-based cancer runs in my family, so ERT would simultaneously activate every latent cancer cell in my body and ultimately kill me. As a result, I went without treatment until I was in my late 20’s when newer treatments became less experimental.
Initially, I was "treated" with high doses of muscle relaxants, but that only helped with the pain. On the flipside, dependency on pain pills during 1-2 weeks out of the month makes it difficult to hold down a job. Let’s face it, no matter how good a job you do, you have to be able to show up to work for it to count! Even the most lenient boss will lose patience with an employee with is forced to be either absent or on drugs for nearly half of each month.
Then I had a laparoscopy three years ago (it was supposed to be my life-saving miracle cure), where they go in surgically from four entry points and temporarily remove the abnormal tissue with a laser. Most people experience symptom relief for 5-10 years after this procedure, but I’m not so lucky. In my case, I have rapid tissue regeneration, so I only got two years without pain before the symptoms began to return. Now, as the symptoms begin to increase, my periods are coming closer and closer together, causing even faster tissue regeneration and intensified pain.
At this time, my periods are about 2-3 weeks apart (rather than the usual 28 days) and over-the-counter meds can no longer be counted upon to get me through an entire week or more of pain. So, my "bad body days" are once again becoming frequent and my ability to function as a "productive" member of society is once again deteriorating.
In two weeks, I meet with my surgeon yet again. I guess I’ll find out then just how far the endometriosis has progressed this time. I can only hope that research is advancing fast enough in this area to offer some real hope for myself and the hundreds of thousands of other girls and women who continue to suffer through the pain and debilitation of
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