Written By Agnes Halladay.
So many women know that dreaded feeling: your period’s due and you’re preparing yourself for the cramps, bloating and back pain. It can be a real nightmare, yet still period pain is incredibly played down across the world. However, what many people still fail to be aware of is the reality of severe period pain and that this can be caused by the 2nd most common gynaecological condition in the United Kingdom: endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis Awareness month?
Endometriosis Awareness Month takes place in March every year, and this year Endometriosis UK has named March 2022 Endometriosis Action Month, hoping to make a more direct impact for those living with the condition. Awareness of endometriosis is incredibly low. In the UK, over half of the population aren’t aware of endometriosis at all! Awareness is higher in women, but still 33% of women in the UK and 74% of men don’t know what endometriosis is. Of the women that did know the name of the condition, 45% couldn’t name any symptoms.
This is yet another way in which period taboos are impacting the day-to-day lives of those who menstruate, as despite such low awareness of the condition, 1 in 10 women of reproductive age suffer with endometriosis, this percentage rising to a 30-50% prevalence in those with fertility issues. For many women, the lack of awareness of the condition can lead to late diagnosis, averaging around 8 years in the UK. By reading this article, you’ve already succeeded in educating yourself and helping to make these statistics better!
But what is Endometriosis in itself?
Time for the science! Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that resembles the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus and can impact the body in many ways. There is currently no known cure for endometriosis, but by making yourself aware of the symptoms and complications of the condition you’ll be better equipped to know when to call the doctor.
Symptoms may include:
- very heavy periods (FabLittleBag is especially helpful here as changing your tampon or pads every hour fills up the bin super fast and uses up a LOT of loo roll!)
- severe pain during periods, particularly in your lower tummy or back
- pain during and/or following sexual intercourse
- pain while urinating or pooing (especially during your period)
- abdominal bloating, nausea, fatigue and abnormal bowel movements during your period
- difficulty getting pregnant
For some women, endometriosis can cause a really big impact on their mood and fertility, with depression and anxiety being associated to the condition in some cases.
It sounds scary, we know, but definitely give your GP a call if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of endometriosis. These symptoms vary considerably and can be caused by other conditions, so diagnosis can be tricky, but that’s all the more reason to talk to a professional if you have any worries! Some GP’s are more aware than others and if they do not refer you to a specialist gynaecologist insist that they do – it is your right and it is NOT normal that periods are really painful!
What can I do to help?
Now you know the facts lets look at some FAB things you can do to help those suffering with endometriosis this month in particular. Local events across the UK such as support groups and marches are taking place. Their fundraising event, the 1in10Challenge is also an opportunity to raise well needed money for worldwide endometriosis research and support.
But action and awareness doesn’t have to stop this month, with a directory of local support groups, a helpline on 0808 808 2227 and an online community of those affected by the condition to also be found on the Endometriosis UK website. Donations can also be made throughout the year; research needs to happen now!
But remember, the biggest difference you can make is through educating yourself and others. Talk to your friends and family and make them aware of how to get help if needed. This will also improve the spread of knowledge of the possible treatments for endometriosis, of which include both medication and operative procedures. The cause of endometriosis may not be known, but nobody should have to suffer in silence.
For more information and ways to end period taboos visit FabLittleBag, a business whose aim is to spread awareness of all things period. Mental health, physical health, environmental awareness… You name it, FabLittleBag writes it!