What is Endometriosis?

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Endometriosis.

When I first heard that word it was so foreign to me. My face says it all! LOL

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All I could picture was a pterodactyl. For whatever reason that’s the imagery I’ve always associated with that word. Endometriosis. A giant clawing bird, that we didn’t totally understand, trying to tear its way out of my body. I mean is it even a dinosaur anyway?! What gives!? Endometriosis isn’t something you can see, so I had a hard time coming to terms with the severity of it, especially in my case. Thus, it has become my pterodactyl. 

Endometrial tissue or endometrium normally grows in the uterus. It helps prepare the lining of your womb for ovulation. But when you have a janky body, this may not be the case. When endometrial tissue begins to grow outside of your uterus, this is endometriosis. 

Endometrial tissue can grow anywhere in your body. It commonly is found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissues that hold the uterus in place and the outer surface of the uterus. 

These displaced tissues act as they normally would in their new homes. This is where the fun really gets going! 

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Each menstrual cycle, this tissue will thicken, break down and bleed. 

The bleeding tissues touches other organs. This phenomenon causes major inflammation and is what leads to the insane levels of pain many Endo patients must endure. 

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of Endometriosis can really complicate the f*ck out of life. Extreme pain and fatigue are two of the biggest problems, especially during your menstrual cycle. And I’m not talking about cramps every so often. I’m talking about intense, non-stop pain. Imagine that pterodactyl living in your uterus but suddenly wants out. It starts stabbing you with its beak, kicking you, banging on your pelvis and lower abdomen. Needle-like claws tearing through your skin. It’s that level of pain. 

Because it’s not already complicated enough, it can also cause pain and discomfort during sex. You’ll also most likely experience gut and bowel issues, nausea, longer and heavier periods, back pain, bloody stool and urine, UTIs, yeast infections and more. 

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis for Endometriosis is not easy. Many women suffer for a decade or more before anything is done. You will typically have to go through various doctors, multiple pelvic exams, internal ultrasounds and MRIs. 

The only way to truly diagnose endometriosis is with a laparoscopy. This is an invasive surgery used to look inside our pelvic area and clear out or burn endometrial tissue. The tissue is then tested to confirm endometriosis. There may also be cysts and fibroids that have grown and must also be removed.

TREATMENT

Unfortunately, there is no true “cure” for endometriosis. There are ways to treat symptoms with a change in diet and lifestyle, birth control pills, the IUD, surgery and other temporary treatments. Essentially this flips your life upside down. There are also alternative treatments and pain management tools such as acupuncture, visiting a chiropractor, herbal medicines, cannabis and more. I’ll be going more in-depth about treatments in a later blog and my own personal experiences with them!

Visit my The WeedTube channel for a lighter take on explaining Endometriosis with a dirty bong! Because - why not?

Elizabeth Whiting