Endometriosis Awareness Month - Fannydiaries
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
This month is Endometriosis Awareness Month. This condition affects one in 10 women and means that tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows elsewhere inside the body. However it takes most women years to be diagnosed.
Endo-prenueur Sarah Victoria is an advocate raising awareness for Endometriosis and women's health via her Instagram @thefannydiaries. We are thrilled that Sarah joins us to speak all things Endometriosis and her experiences with the condition.
My life with endometriosis
When I was growing up periods were an enormously taboo subject, never discussed. I learned at school that painful periods were normal, it was just part of being a women. Because of this feeling that it was the norm, at the age of 16, shame and embarrassment prevented me from seeing a doctor when I first noticed the symptoms. It wasn't until 12 years later I was finally diagnosed with Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is an all over body disease and it means that endometrium like cells grow outside the uterine cavity. It's the second most common gynaecological condition affecting 1 in 10 women and 176 million worldwide, so it's incredible that it's so underfunded and rarely heard of. Common symptoms of Endometriosis include pelvic pain, very painful and heavy periods, irregular periods, fatigue and bloating.
Enometriosis impacts all aspects of your life including fertility, work, relationships and friendships. Often having to cancel plans last minute due to having sudden flare ups of pain and friends would think I was lying or trying to avoid them.
On average, it takes approximately 7.5 years to diagnose. It took me 12.
I have had literally every single bowel and diet test going and cameras up every orifice multiple times. I was constantly told that the pain is wasn't real or in my head, that I just needed to have a baby or that hormone contraception would cure me. The really sad thing is that there is no cure.
It was a long and exhausting battle. Eventually, I was sent for an ultrasound which returned 3 pages of abnormalities. From there I was finally referred to a gynaecologist. To cut a very long story short, I would have had more success calling up my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
I was told there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, that I was extremely low risk of anything as I was under the age of 40 and that I simply needed to take hormone contraception.
If you're currently having a hard time being believed, my advice is to always trust yourself, you know your own body best and you know when something is wrong. If I'd had listened to that Gynaecologist and not trusted my own instincts, I would more than likely be writing this without my left ovary.
I was left with no other choice but to explore the extremely expensive private route. I met my Gynaecologist who recommended further investigation through diagnostic laparoscopy surgery. During that surgery they found an extensive amount of Endometriosis growing on the outside of my left ovary, with big adhesions growing also on my bowel which was pulling it down. I'm now having tests to see if it has grown through my bowel, which is literally a shit situation.
You can understand that I cried with happiness on being told that they had found something wrong. A diagnosis meant my pain was real and justified. 12 years of being told that your pain and symptoms are just in your head when it's not has a real detrimental impact on your mental health too. During my surgery, if nothing was found, they would have shut down my ovaries and put my body into a forced menopause.
Endometriosis can be a very lonely and isolating condition with absolutely no support, but a lot of negative. I wanted to flip this on it's head and turn a negative into a great big positive. I created The Fanny Diaries, a website and blog talking about all things Endometriosis and Women's Health where I encourage everyone to 'Fight for their Fanny's'.
I hope to help change the gender pain gap one fanny at a time because if men suffered from this disease, you can be sure they wouldn't be waiting 12 years for a diagnosis!
To anyone out there currently experiencing symptoms and being fobbed off, do not give up. You're fabulous, keep going and don't stop until you have answers.
To anyone who thinks they may have Endometriosis or is noticing pain, please go and see your doctor, do not put it off like I once did.
To anyone who has been newly diagnosed with Endometriosis I am sorry, it's not easy but you are not alone.
Keep going, keep fighting for your Fanny, because my darlings, your fanny deserves an amazing pain free life and so do you.
Thank you, Cheeky Wipes & Cheeky Pants, for allowing me to share my story and raise awareness about Endometriosis, I'm forever grateful. If you haven't already treated yourself to a pair of Cheeky Pants, you need to do so ASAP! They are ultimate bad ass game changers'.
Lots of fanny fighting love,
A huge thank-you to Sarah for this article. Please follow her on Insta, @thefannydiaries and visit her website The Fanny Diaries. If you are affected by anything in this article, please find help at the NHS website or Endometriosis UK. Always, please contact your Doctor or a medical professional if you are concerned.