Endometriosis is a lot like cancer, except it doesn’t kill you.
Yeah…I know…I said it.
Having lost both my parents to cancer, I DO NOT SAY THIS LIGHTLY. 1 out of every 10 women have Endometriosis, making it one of the most common diseases you’ve probably never heard of. It affects your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, coworker, spouse, and maybe even you.
I have learned that before a problem can be fixed, it must be identified and defined. So, before we can talk about fun stuff like recipes and remedies, we have to dig in and examine exactly what Endometriosis is.
Endo-me-tri-osis is a disease of the menstrual cycle. The inner lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. It is the part of your uterus that thickens when preparing for a fertilized egg to attach itself and grow into a fetus. If the egg is not fertilized, this thick part sloughs off of the uterus and is expelled in what we know as the menstrual cycle. This debilitating disease occurs when the endometrium grows outside of the uterus, hence the term endometri-osis. It can spread throughout the pelvic area and abdomen to the ligaments, ovaries, bladder, rectum, bowels, appendix, etc. Although it rarely occurs outside of the pelvic area, it can spread as far as the lungs and even to the brain.
It is not exactly clear what causes Endometriosis. But, here are a few of the known possibilities.
Hereditary: Usually a woman’s mother, grandmother or other close relative had it
Hormonal Imbalance: The production of TOO MUCH ESTROGEN
Retrograde Menstruation: Blood flow back into the body during the period
Endometriosis starts in one area, then spreads, and if unchecked, expands throughout the body affecting everything it touches, like cancer. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “just take birth control pills,” I would be rich. Unfortunately, with me being diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis, it has already spread outside of my reproductive system and invaded the rest of the organs in my pelvis.
The terrible truth is that even if put on birth control, treated with hormonal therapy, being scraped out, cut out, burned out or with organs flat out removed, Endometriosis can and usually does grow back with a vengeance, often creating new or worsening symptoms. This is why early detection is so crucial. But, the average time it takes for most women to get diagnosed is about 10 years. I personally think that, like me, young girls in excruciating pain are told, “it’s normal to have cramping pain during your period,” and this delays diagnosis and more importantly, treatment.
Sharing these similarities with how cancer operates within the body, Endometriosis is truly one of the most physically and emotionally devastating diseases a woman can experience. When people ask me what Endometriosis feels like during my period, I often explain, “it’s like a knife to the gut over and over again.” So, if you know a woman dealing with Endometriosis or similar issues, don’t just tell her to stop complaining and take a pain killer or keep it to herself because it’s gross. Instead, offer her a hug, listen and ask what you can do to help her bear this burden. After all, she’s going to need an entire SUPPORT SYSTEM of family, friends, co-workers, medical providers, etc.–just like the cancer patient.
To learn more and find support visit https://www.endofound.org/endometriosis