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The Story of Endometriosis That We Don’t Talk About

The Story of Endometriosis That We Don’t Talk About

It started soon after when Lorella first got her period. She was still 13 years old at the time. Who would’ve imagined it would take 8 years for her to be diagnosed with endometriosis? 

She would often experience an intense burning sensation and having to go to the ER. However, no matter how many times they researched and experimented with her condition, everything was clear, and the doctor would tell her, “You just have strong period pain”. 

“The pain was increasing to the worst point where sometimes I would faint, or I would throw up a lot. So every month, I went to the ER, and they gave me morphine because there wasn’t any painkiller that was strong enough to ease my pain.”

What is endometriosis?

Chronic pain affects 1 in 10 women. Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus. It gives symptoms such as chronic pelvis pain, painful sex, bloating, nausea, impacted bowel movements, and fatigue. And it can sometimes lead to infertility, depression and anxiety.

However, endometriosis is often misrepresented as “severe period pain”. The lack of understanding and research delays people's diagnosis and access to better treatment.

In the UK, it takes an average of 7.5 years to get diagnosed with endometriosis, although it’s the second most common gynaecological condition in the country. 

“I was very relieved to know what was causing the pain finally. It’s like a handicap. In school or at work, sometimes the pain would come out of nowhere, and I have to tell people that I need to go home now or I will pass out. And it gives them a bad impression. So, I was relieved to have a name of my symptoms and be able to explain what it is to other people. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit angry that it took so long to be diagnosed.”

Is endometriosis associated with skin health?

“When I was younger, I had a lot of hormonal acne on my face, and it still does today,” Lorella tells me.

“My skin condition is very unstable; sometimes, it’s greasy and sometimes very dry and sensitive. I have to change my skincare routine constantly.”

A study from 2014 found that teenagers with hormonal acne had a 20% increased chance of getting endometriosis.

It means endometriosis isn’t the cause of unstable skin conditions, but hormonal imbalance. It can both flare up endometriosis symptoms and skin inflammation. Dermatologists often find common skin conditions in patients with endometriosis, such as dry/sensitive skin, hormonal breakouts, rosacea, and eczema.

The skin sensitivity changes depending on oestrogen and progesterone levels. Especially during the menstrual cycle, these hormones’ levels go up and down, and endometriosis heightens these skin reactions.

What are Oestrogen and Progesterone?

Oestrogen: It plays an essential role in female reproductive growth and development by supporting the menstrual cycle. It also helps to stimulate collagen production for skin health.

Progesterone: It’s a steroid hormone that helps to prepare for reproduction. And it stimulates sebum production. 

When the oestrogen level is higher than average, hormonal imbalance happens. It is known that women with endometriosis have a higher level of oestrogen. It eventually affects the endometrial tissue outside the uterus and causes inflammation and pain. 

Moreover, when the progesterone level is higher, it can make the skin oily and become prone to acne. Finally, it can be the leading cause of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), such as breast swelling, breast tenderness, weight gain, bloating, low sex drive, and depression.

Lorella tells me, “One thing that doesn’t get talked about is how it affects the sexual aspects of life. You will feel the pain during sex because both the endometriosis and the treatment lowers your libido. And it can impact your relationship negatively.”

I think it's quite compelling that there is much more to discover about endometriosis and its connection with hormones and female body structure. The reality of endometriosis treatment sounds like a long, stressful journey. If you are noticing any symptoms, go see a specialist directly as soon as possible. If you know someone who suffers from this disease, be the best support for them. It’s invisible, but the pain is certainly there.

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