Living with Endometriosis

This blog was written by our intern, Gayatri Chatterjee who is a 20-year-old student at St Andrews University. 

Since I first started my period at 13, I’ve had very irregular, painful and heavy periods.

When I first sought help, both the doctor and the gynaecologist I was referred to were quite dismissive of my symptoms because according to them, irregular periods had become incredibly common among people my age.

It was very frustrating at the time, and although my period has now regularised with age, what hasn’t changed is the degree of chronic pain and period cramping. It’s usually also accompanied with severe back and pelvic pain, breast tenderness, migraines, and deep moodiness, affecting my general mental health around the time.

I have experienced menstrual irregularities and symptoms of endometriosis ever since I was young, and even though I’ve been visiting gynaecologists since I was 15, I’m now 20 and yet have never received a formal diagnosis.  

Because of this, it’s always been hard to know and accept whether I was just having “a bad period” or was actually battling a disorder.

My constantly unpredictable flow and sudden heaviness would really worry me, and I would feel completely drained and ill even 5 days into my period. 

Yet, due to the lack of medical understanding and openness around endometriosis I would feel anxious about being labelled “dramatic” about my pain levels.

When I thought about how to manage the symptoms, the possibility of going on contraceptives or hormonal medicines seemed so daunting to both me and my mother, especially because of the possible side effects.

So instead, I was prescribed strong painkillers with anti-inflammatory properties for pain management. I’ve been using them since and they’ve been helpful when standard ibuprofen just hasn’t. 

Finding painkillers that made a difference really enabled me to not feel so helpless, and be far more functional and active whilst on my period.

With age, I have learnt to be more assertive about explaining my symptoms and standing up for myself. Although I was always able to speak to my mother about this, I didn’t feel comfortable openly discussing it with other people.

I think that because of the lack of conversation around it, I didn’t understand the extent of the issue and how many of my friends had been experiencing similar period-related irregularities. My internal acceptance and conscious openness to both my friends and doctors has definitely helped.

I’ve also gained a much better understanding of my disorder and my body over the years, and switching to the Asan cup has really helped with that. I use it when I’m not feeling as raw or tender, and I’ve been able to monitor my flow and really recognize the patterns of my period. 

This has allowed me to be so much more prepared for days when I’m anticipating a heavier flow and has given me a feeling of greater control over my period and my body, in general.

Everyone’s experience with endometriosis and endometriosis-like symptoms is different, and therefore, treatment and management of the condition is also different from person to person.

I think a first and very important step is to try and boost awareness and understanding of the condition, and prioritise communication with those around who can help. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a prevalent reproductive health condition which leads to heightened symptoms of menstruation. These include period cramping, bloating of the abdomen, nausea and effects on mental health with symptoms such as anxiety and depression. 

Learn more by reading our blog about endometriosis

Can endometriosis cause infertility?

Endometriosis can sometimes make it more difficult to get pregnant. People with endometriosis often experience issues with fertility. Between 30-50% of people who face the disorder may also deal with infertility.

How does endometriosis occur?

It occurs when the tissue which resembles that of the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. This growth of excessive scar tissue around the pelvic area leads to inflammation, which is the cause of excessive pain that is typical of the condition. 

What causes endometriosis?

Unfortunately, there is no known single cause or cure for the condition which makes it difficult to deal with sometimes. Additionally, due to a lack of medical understanding of Endometriosis, diagnosis is typically difficult.

The erratic nature of the symptoms means that women who suffer from the condition have distinct experiences so it’s hard to recognize at times.

Can I wear a menstrual cup if I have endometriosis? 

The answer is yes, absolutely! 

At Asan we strongly stand for ‘your body, your choice’: The symptoms of endometriosis vary for every individual so using a menstrual cup with endometriosis depends entirely on you. 

Read our colleague Mamta's experience about using menstrual cups with endometriosis.