March 1st is Endometriosis Awareness Day. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows in other areas of the body too. This extra tissue ends up mostly in the pelvic area. It can grow on the ovaries, bowels, on the outside of the uterus and the spaces between the bladder, uterus and vagina. It’s also been found by the lungs, diaphragm and rectum although this isn’t as common.
Because this tissue isn’t meant to exist anywhere other than in the uterus, the area/s where it’s found become inflamed and the pain can be severe. This endometrial-like tissue builds up and breaks down as a reaction to the hormonal fluctuations each month just like the endometrium would. However, because this tissue is outside of the uterus it has nowhere to exit the body and can become trapped.
This blog post is not a substitute for medical advice, but more of a guide. If you think you may have endometriosis, please see a medical professional. Here are 5 things you need to know about the disease, along with references to previous blog posts on endometriosis:
1) It’s a FULL body disease
Just because endometriosis is associated with reproductive health, this doesn’t mean it only impacts the reproductive organs. It can impact other areas of the body too, including the brain and as mentioned earlier the kidneys and lungs too. In some cases the pain can be so severe that doing simple tasks like walking around can be too taxing on the body.
2) It’s a chronic disease
Endometriosis is a lifelong disease. Unfortunately, there’s no cure but there are ways to manage it such as hormonal treatment or surgery in some cases.
3) You can still have a sex life
Having endometriosis doesn’t mean you can’t have a sex life. Once you’re diagnosed your sex life will most likely change in a few ways, but it doesn’t have to be erased. If you experience painful or uncomfortable sex then adjustments will need to be made accordingly, like trying different positions, different types of sex (oral sex, mutual masturbation, sex toys etc) and using lube will help keep your sex life alive.
4) Your age doesn’t matter
Endometriosis can affect anyone with a uterus. Pre-teens and teenagers can also be at risk of developing endometriosis, as well as people who are in their mid to late forties. If you, or anyone you know consistently experiences severely painful periods to the point where pain tablets don’t work anymore, and walking or getting out of bed is too much then it could be endometriosis. If this is the case, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
5) What increases your risk of developing endometriosis?
If you’re infertile, have a short cycle of 27 days or less, or if your period is very heavy and lasts more than seven days. Endometriosis is hereditary, so if it exists in your family, your chances of developing it is high.
For more on Endometriosis have a look at these blog posts:
- A run-down on Endometriosis
- 5 myths and misconceptions about Endometriosis
- 7 FAQs about Endometriosis
- 5 ways to enjoy sex with Endometriosis