READER REPORT:

'Endometriosis is debilitating, but has limited visible symptoms'

ASHLEIGH SCHULZE
Last updated 15:37 28/11/2016
Pain
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"Some women's pain is so extreme they are bedridden for up to a week every month."

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Endometriosis affects a lot more women than it should. About one in 10 women have the illness, yet it is incredibly difficult to diagnose and many women don't know they have it.

Distinguishing what is "normal" for a period and what is abnormal can be difficult. 

We are told we will get cramps, but the extent of the discomfort and potential pain goes unexplained. We are told things will get tough, but not how tough.

Endometriosis can cause extreme cramps, chronic pain, irregular and abnormal bowel movements, food intolerance, pain during sex and extreme bleeding. It can lead to infertility. Yet most of these symptoms are invisible to others, so people sometimes doubt the extent of the discomfort.

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It's all well and good to have to call in sick to work every so often - people get paid sick leave for a reason. But some women's pain is so extreme they are bedridden for up to a week every month.

Endometriosis is debilitating, but has limited visible symptoms.

It is challenging to convince people that being chronically ill every month is plausible. The worst thing is there is no available cure.

It takes a toll on women's work performance, relationships with others, and outside commitments. When women feel too ill to socialise, they can be perceived as flaky or unreliable.

Education on endometriosis is improving, thankfully, but people still remain sceptical. And when people's faith in you fails, it becomes hard to convince them that you are ill.

Education is becoming the leading factor in restoring trust and faith back into my relationships. When people start to realise that endometriosis isn't a "normal" period, they become more supportive and less doubtful.

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As soon as people gain understanding and knowledge, support follows.

Living with a chronic illness is a struggle, and the best thing for it is finding people who are willing to support you and believe in you. Finding people to relate to, that are in a similar situation, also helps.

Support is the best emotional cure.


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