Endometriosis and PCOS: For too long, no-one believed my pain was real

Ever since my periods started they have been ridiculously heavy and painful.

My mum would just shrug it off and tell me to get over myself and get on with it, and every female around me would say “I get periods too, and they aren’t that bad”.

At 16 they became abnormal. I would faint and vomit from the pain; every time, it almost broke me.

My doctor told me I was young, and my abnormal periods were totally normal. She said the pain was all in my head and I needed to get over myself, then sent me home with paracetamol. How many other girls were sent away in the same way, feeling silly and defeated?

I spent years believing I just had a low pain threshold and was being dramatic. Then in 2014 I moved away from home, went to university, and took my health in my own hands.

I had many pregnancy scares as a teenager due to my periods sometimes being totally absent. After this happened one too many times, I started googling to find out what could be wrong with me.

I first read up on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and I could relate to almost all of listed symptoms: oily skin; hirsutism (excessive body hair); acne; carrying weight mainly around my middle; struggling to lose weight; anxiety; pelvic pains; insomnia; missing periods.

Then I read about endometriosis: how painful and heavy periods can be; how the pain can be around the back of the thighs and in the lower back and abdomen; how nauseating it can be and how you can flare up because of stress or different foods.

I went to see a doctor pretty much straight away. She immediately booked me in to see a gynaecologist to get a surgical referral for endometriosis and sent me to get an ultrasound scan of my ovaries to check for cysts. For the first time ever, I felt like someone was listening.

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