When I was 11 years old, I had my first menses. For the next 21 years, I had little relief from severe abdominal cramping and excessive bleeding. I spent 2-3 days of a normal 7-10 day period lying in bed. My time was spent studying homework, reading books, and watching television with a heating pad draped over my pelvis and twice hourly bathroom trips. The cause of my horrible menses was believed to be connected to previous ovarian cancer. It would prove to be caused by Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue grows outside of the uterus or on other organs within the pelvis. It can be suggested by physical examination but can only be diagnosed via laparoscopy or in my case after partial hysterectomy. Women who have this condition can have no symptoms or have abdominal pain, lower back pain, fatigue, constipation, infertility, and excessive bleeding.
Endometriosis has an unknown cause. One theory is the backup of menstrual flow can cause the condition. Some surgeries, such as Cesarean sections, may lead to the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus. Blood and lymph systems as well as immune system problems may lead to the development of the condition as well.
My decision for partial hysterectomy as treatment for extreme menstrual bleeding and pain was due to cancer risk and no longer needing my uterus for pregnancy. My cramps and bleeding grew steadily worse each month. I was using two to three boxes of tampons and one to two boxes of pads monthly in 2009 when I chose to have a partial hysterectomy.
Birth control pills helped my symptoms but caused uncontrollable migraine headaches. I used Tylenol, hot bubble baths, and a heating pad to treat the pain. When I had to be mobile, I bought heating pads that can adhere to the skin. Some women find relief by Endometriosis tissue removal through laparoscopy.
A diagnosis of Endometriosis is difficult to obtain. My physical history indicated the need for regular ultrasounds showing a thicker than normal uterine lining. The growth of tissues outside my uterus was not confirmed until my uterus was looked at in pathology. The report read “patches indicative of chronic Endometriosis found on samples taken from the ovary and outside the uterus.” Following surgery, I knew the cause of my horrible experiences with menstruation and was cured.