Endo Myths Cracked
March is National Endometriosis Awareness month and we’d like to clear up some rumors you may have heard, or not heard, about endo. This condition burdens many women and often goes undiagnosed. Early on in our womanly lives, we are told that cramps just hurt and essentially, life goes on. It’s likely every woman has her own story of how the inconvenience and pain of having a period ruined a day or a week or a favorite pair of pants.
We as women have even developed our own light hearted humor about how bad cramps will have us buckled over eating ice cream with a heating pad on our ovaries — oh what a stereotype we’re totally okay with being in this moment, now please pass the chocolate. Yes, period cramps do hurt and everyone with a uterus has to deal with it on some level. But annoying period cramps isn’t endometriosis.
Endo is when you’ve called in sick for the umpteenth time and you’re all out of sick days because of it. It’s when you can barely get out of bed because there are one thousand mini devils with pitchforks stabbing your uterus. It’s when binge watching Parks and Rec can’t help you, yes endo is truly that bad.
Though you probably have a faint idea on if you have endo, the best way (really the only way) to find out for sure is to visit your OB/GYN or doctor and talk about your symptoms. Whether you have endo or find out your best girlfriend does and you want to support her, here are some myths we can knock down so you can better understand the condition.
Myth: If you have a heavy period, you have endo.
Not necessarily. While a heavy flow could be a symptom of endometriosis, it can’t be used as a sole indicator. You’ll find that diagnosing the condition takes a lot of factors into account. A heavy period could be one of them, but it’s just as possible for you to have a light period and still have endometriosis. You could also have a heavy flow and no endo.
Myth: The only cure for endometriosis is surgery.
Unfortunately, there technically is no cure for endometriosis. While there are certain surgical procedures that can be performed that temporarily treat the symptoms, it is likely that the symptoms will come back. The only “cure” that has been found for endo is a little extreme— removing the your best girl, the uterus (Yipe!) But this is saved only for extreme cases and conditions and isn’t even suggested until trying lots of other methods. Truly, it’s a really extreme resolution, so don’t panic — you and your girl can stick together (whew). What will most likely happen if your doctor diagnoses you with endo is they will suggest over the counter drugs to relieve the pain or, if you aren’t looking to get pregnant or harvest eggs just yet, they might try putting you on birth control or some kind of hormone therapy to manage symptoms.
Myth: Endometriosis is only experienced by older women
This one is so false. Endo can start in girls the first time they experience their period. This misconception probably exists because correct diagnosis is often prolonged by a decade. Women think that the extreme pain they feel is normal or their doctor tells them it is. That means the average woman will deal with unnatural pain every month, once a month, for about 10 years longer than a usual diagnosis. So if a girl develops endo in high school, she might be well into adulthood before she thinks to see a doctor about her condition or gets a second opinion. The lesson here is if you think you might have endometriosis, meet with your doctor. Do not wait.
Myth: Women with endometriosis only have pain during their period.
This one is unique to each case, but overall is false. Having severe pain while shedding the endometrium each month is part of endo, but the pain can happen at any point during the menstrual process. It can also show up as not just abdominal pain. Endo can cause different symptoms like intestinal issues or pain during intercourse. These kinds of things your doctor will be prepared to ask you about.
Myth: Endometriosis puts an end your plans for pregnancy.
No, girl. There are options. While endometriosis can cause infertility, it is not a deal breaker. Each case is different and women with endometriosis can absolutely have a pregnancy that results in live birth. Egg freezing actually can assist in this; you can harvest healthy eggs and then through IVF have a viable embryo for implantation. Science can be really helpful when it comes to conceiving with endo though natural births do still happen. We’re glad to answer any questions you might have about it.
Myth: If I change my diet it will cure endo
Well, no. There is unfortunately no cure for endo as we mentioned before. Though changing to a healthier diet never hurts. If you meet with our nutritionist she might be able to help you with a diet that is anti-inflammatory and high in vitamins which can sometimes help relieve the painful symptoms. There is also a study that implies a good diet can help prevent endo. It’s not the most solid study in the world, admittedly, but it never hurts to just take care of you for you. If the pain is truly unbearable to the point it’s affecting your life, throw all your resources at it and knock that pain out. The worst case scenario here is you’re still eating well and contributing to your overall health.
Have you heard other myths about endo? Ask us about them when you meet with us. Reserve a consult today. (Click the little blue section at the top right corner of your screen that says “Reserve a Consult Now”. See it? Cool. See you soon!)