Living with Endometriosis and how to make it your bitch.

With March being National Endometriosis month, and so many women around the world suffering from the condition, we have an interview with Kitten A who tells us of her life challenges living with endometriosis.

Being on your period can suck. If you are one of these women, there is no point in dressing it up and trying to put a positive spin on the situation because let’s be real here: this part of womanhood is really unfair. The cramps, the backache, the horrendous mood swings – the only part to enjoy (slightly) is the way ice cream and chocolate tastes ten times more magical when you’re going through what feels like Satan’s torture.

But can you imagine having periods that are so heavy that they leak through a sanitary pad within an hour? Having stomach pains that cause you to writhe around in pain and are so severe that you are physically sick? Can you imagine having to tell your boss that you cannot go to work for the next few days because it hurts to even walk a few steps without your hot water bottle? And the mood swings! If you think they are bad when you have a regular period, try having endometriosis.

Today I am joined by Kitten A. She’s a 25-year-old teacher, lover or all things Disney and Harry Potter, who suffers from endometriosis. We’re absolutely delighted to have her at KK to share her experience.

Tell us a little bit about you!

Well, I’m 25 (as you said before) and I’m an English teacher. I’ve only recently qualified, and I adore my job! I have a wonderful, long-term partner and I’m a very positive, upbeat person. I like to see the bright side in everything, which has actually really helped me over the past eight years when my health condition started to display symptoms.

What were the first symptoms that made you realise there was something wrong?

I mean, since my first period I thought that something wasn’t quite right. But to be honest, I just put it down to heavy periods! They used to be so heavy that they would stain my clothes within an hour and because of that, I didn’t want to go to school. I did, of course, go to school, but sometimes teachers got suspicious of the number of times I asked to go to the toilet. And it wasn’t just the heavy flow, either. The fact that I was doubled over in pain when I was on my periods made it worse, but at fourteen or fifteen, you just assume that perhaps it’s inexperience and all women feel the same way. In fact, only recently did I discover that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis (Endometriosis.org) and it was a statistic that really shocked me.

That’s quite a large number for a condition that isn’t exceptionally well known. Can you explain what endometriosis is?

Endometriosis is a condition where the lining from the womb is found outside the womb, and it’s usually found in the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It’s a long term condition with no cure (yet) and seems to affect women who are at ‘child-bearing’ age (ie: from whenever you start your period to when you hit the menopause). That’s not to say, of course, that you can’t still have endometriosis when you have gone through the menopause, it’s just rarer and less likely.

What are the main symptoms of endometriosis?

The symptoms vary from woman to woman, but generally, the main one is the pain which is at its peak when you’re on your period. There’s also the heavy flow of your period, pain during sex, pain when you go to the toilet, feeling and being sick, constipation and probably the most difficult for some: infertility or difficulty getting pregnant. 

 Would you say it’s had an impact on your day-to-day life?

For sure, 100%. As I said, I’m quite a happy, upbeat person and I love to smile, but it becomes very difficult to remain so upbeat when you’re in absolute agony all the time. Some people who have endometriosis suffer terribly during their period, but they are okay for most of the rest of the month. Unfortunately, for me it’s sporadic, and the pain can come whenever it fancies. Because of the nature of my job, there’s a lot of talking, smiling, being on my feet and being consistently reliable, so when the pain strikes, it’s really difficult to continue hitting those standards and being there for the kids in my class. There’s also the strain that it’s had on my relationship. Don’t get me wrong, my partner is absolutely fantastic with it. He knows how to make me feel a bit better, and he knows how upset I can get because of it – I’m incredibly lucky to be supported the way he supports me, but I’m also aware that it can be draining for him. If we go out for dinner and the pain strikes, we have to leave immediately. If we go on holiday, we have to check where the nearest hospital is before we can book anything. I’m on very strong painkillers most of the time, which makes me very woozy, so he has to help me with, well, pretty much everything. And then there’s sex…

Does it mean you can’t have sex?

No, certainly not! We have a very healthy sex life, actually. It just means that there are certain positions that we can’t do because if he hits a certain spot, I’ll be bed bound for (sometimes) days. We’re still experimenting with positions that feel good for both of us and doesn’t cause pain, but I’ve found that on the side is the best position for us as it’s not ultra deep and it doesn’t seem to hit anything sensitive. Being on top is also great because I’m in charge and can decide the pace and can adjust the angle. It also can dent your sex drive – I mean, being in pain all the time will do that to you. My partner has been really understanding of that, though, and since sorting out my pain management with painkillers and exercise, it’s improved dramatically.

What position would you tell women with endometriosis to avoid?

For me, I’d probably say that doggie is the position that can cause some pain. Because it’s deep, the chances of hitting a sensitive area are higher, but as I said, every woman is different. And whilst I’m saying that doggy style is prone to agonising my endometriosis, I’d also say that that’s because of the proportions of my partner. It could be a perfect position if the lady takes control for the very same reason as being on top.

What would you say to women who have just been diagnosed with endometriosis?

Firstly, I’d say that you are incredibly strong, and secondly, I’d tell you that there are so many ways around endometriosis to make life normal. Exercise daily even when the pain hits – I know it’s the last thing you want to be doing, but it will help. Sex, as well, is a massive wave of pain relief and will make you feel better! Just make sure you take control until you find a position that is comfortable and pleasurable for you. You might get days where you feel un-sexy, but remember that Marilyn Monroe had endometriosis, and she was the sexiest woman alive!

Thank you so much, Ami, for coming and talking to KK about your experience with Endometriosis. If our readers are living with this condition, please know that you’re not alone and we admire the strength you have.

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