13 Struggles Women With Endometriosis Know All Too Well

Ad failed to load

It took far too long for someone to take my pain seriously and, in the end, diagnose me with endometriosis. Prior to that day of absolute relief, I spent my time trying to convince doctors and nurses that the pain I felt when I had my period wasn't, in fact, "normal." I spent time trying to convince boyfriends that I wasn't "faking it." I spent time, essentially, working my way through the struggles women with endometriosis know all too well, trying to live with a debilitating pain that so many people don't even consider "real."

There's a severe lack of general, social knowledge when it comes to women's reproductive health, or even health in general. That's easily the main reason why so many people don't know what endometriosis is, or have never even heard of it until they meet someone who suffers from it. Endometriosis is when the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus starts growing on the outside your uterus. That same tissue can also, in some cases, end up in a woman's fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, vagina, and even the rectum, intestines and appendix. The pain is extraordinarily horrific, in a way that can make it difficult to describe, let alone live with. In my many attempts to prove to someone (hell, anyone) that the pain I was experiencing was, in fact, real, I have settled on describing it as a screwdriver swirling your lower abdomen, stomach and back all together into a mess of hot, singing pain that makes you nauseas. It doesn't even begin to cover it, but it's the best I've yet to come up with.

There's no cure for endometriosis, although there are treatments available (ranging from pain management to major surgery) that can, at times, give women relief. For most living with endometriosis, however, there's a monthly (if not daily) struggle that people without endometriosis just can't understand. Sharing that experience helps, though. It helps you find solidarity with other women who know what it's like to live with endometriosis. It helps people understand what you're going through, even if they can't entirely. It helps you realize that you're not, in fact, alone. So, with that in mind, here are 13 struggles women living with endometriosis know all too well:

Ad failed to load

When No One Believes You're In That Much Pain...


This is, without a doubt, one of the hardest parts of being diagnosed with endometriosis. So many people, in my life at least, don't seem to believe that the pain that accompanies my period is at all real. It's so much more than just a cramp. It's debilitating. It's so much more than just inconvenient. It's life-altering. Knowing that, and living with that pain, only to have someone tell me that I'm "faking it" or that I don't have an adequate tolerance for pain or that I'm simply "seeking attention," is not only enraging and wrong, it's heartbreaking.

...And You Spend Your Time Trying To Prove That Your Pain Is, In Fact, Real

I've stopped trying to convince people that the pain of endometriosis, or endometriosis in general, is real. However, for far too long, I was emphatically trying to convince people my pain was real, in order to validate it. I would try to describe the pain to past lovers and even went so far as to invite a former-boyfriend to a doctor's appointment, so my need for pain medication and time on the couch and sleeping or hot showers was finally, for him, understandable. I look back and shake my head, almost embarrassed that I felt like I needed people to believe me. My pain is real. Endometriosis is very real. In fact, 1 in 10 women, approximately 170 million women, are affected by endometriosis. Just because there's a gross lack of general awareness about women's health, and primarily reproductive health, doesn't mean that people are entitled to tell you that your pain, your experience, isn't real.

When Even Standing, Let Alone Walking, Is Painful


When my period arrives, I can't move. I mean, I can, but it is extremely painful. If I am to walk anywhere, I have to do it hunched over. If I am to sit, it might as well turn into me laying down in the fetal position. Every step hurts; every position I sit or stand or lay in, hurts; everything I do, just hurts.

Ad failed to load

When You Dread Going To The Bathroom, Because It Hurts

Because endometriosis is essentially endometrium layers ending up in places outside of the uterus, and one of those places can be in and around the bowel, going to the bathroom can hurt. I mean, really hurt. I loath going to the bathroom when my period comes around (and even before and afterwards), to the point that I don't necessarily want to eat or drink.

When "Normal" Menstrual Cramp Remedies Don't Work


I can't tell you how many times I have had someone tell me, "Just take some over-the-counter pain medicine" or, "Just use a heat pad," as if these aren't common options I have already tried a thousand times. I've been prescribed pain medication from a doctor for my endometriosis, the pain is that severe, so, no, Ibuprofen isn't going to cut it. I can spend a significant amount of time in the fetal position in the shower, but the hot water only does so much. For the most part, sadly, I just have to "ride it out," and suffer and wait for the "storm" to pass and that's, you know, not fun.

When You Spend All Day Feeling Nauseous And/Or Actually Vomiting

I didn't think anything would be worse than a few of my horrific college hangovers, but I was wrong. Every time I get my period, I feel like I have downed a few too many shots of tequila without any of the fun associated with such a careless act (oh god, tequila. Just, no.). I can't eat and, when I do, I throw up. I exist in a constant state of nausea, never too far from a bathroom for fear that I'll need to stick my head in a toilet just to feel an ounce of relief. The only other time I have felt that miserable was when I was experiencing morning sickness and, well, that was easier to tolerate, considering I knew (eventually) that it would end.

Ad failed to load

When You're Trying To Get Pregnant...


Around 25 percent of women with endometriosis have fertility problems. In college, I was told that I, in all likelihood, wasn't going to be able to have children. I didn't think much of it (although it was odd and surprisingly hurtful to have that choice taken away from me) because, at the time, I didn't want children and never wanted to be a mother. I did, eventually, get pregnant (with twins!) and I was thrilled, but that pregnancy was very difficult and one of our twin sons died at 19 weeks.

Of course, not every woman wants to get pregnant but, for the ones who do make that life choice, getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term, when you have endometriosis, can be very difficult. Women who choose to (and can afford to) undergo rounds of IVF are only offered an additional 9 to 10 percent chance of getting pregnant, per treatment cycle. Women with endometriosis have a 2 percent chance of getting pregnant without any assistance at all.

...And When You Find Yourself Afraid To Get Pregnant

I'm currently trying to get pregnant again, and it's been a difficult road. Every time my period comes, I'm more and more afraid that another child just isn't in the cards. However, my fear of never getting pregnant again is trumped by my fear of actually getting pregnant. I'm afraid my pregnancy is going to be dangerous; I'm afraid I'm going to lose the pregnancy; I'm afraid something horribly wrong will happen because, well, it's happened before. I'm just not sure I can handle it for a second time.

When You Hurt So Much You Can't Work, And Coworkers Or Bosses Don't Understand


I've had to call into school and, later, work, because I just couldn't bring myself to walk from my bedroom to my bathroom, let alone commute to school or work. In high school, my mother would have to call the administration and let the powers that be know I was sick, so I didn't have to deal with any intrusive questions. However, when I was working for two men at a real estate company, trying to explain that for a few days, every month, I wouldn't be able to come into the office was, well, awkward. They didn't get it and they didn't believe me and I was made to feel like an unreliable employee.

Ad failed to load

When You Don't Have Any Energy

One of the common side effects of endometriosis is fatigue, which really doesn't even do that overwhelming zombie-like feeling any sort of justice. I don't feel like myself when I get my period. I feel like a shell of a human being, like not only has my energy has left my body, but my personality and the things that make me, well, me, are long gone. I don't have the energy to laugh when I'd normally laugh or even smile when something is particularly funny. I try to summon enough energy to continue with my day but, for at least the first three or four days of my period, I feel completely useless.

When You Get Another, Yes, Another, Ovarian Cyst


Another common side effect of endometriosis is frequent ovarian cysts. Normally, these particular blood-filled growths are called ovarian endometrioma or an endometrial cysts, and can vary in size (anywhere from 1 mm to more than 8 cm across). I am constantly, consistently, annoyingly and painfully developing ovarian cysts, which usually lands me in the hospital with some great pain medication and an ultrasound to see if surgery is necessary. For the most part, in my case, I just have to wait for the cyst t to burst (also extremely painful) but, always, I'm afraid of the day a doctor has to tell me that the cyst is too big, and I'll need surgery to remove it.

When It Hurts To Have Sex

It's very common for women with endometriosis to experience intense pain when they have sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, that pain can translate to some emotional and mental pain, too. As a sexual assault survivor, it has been extremely difficult for me to separate the pain I feel when I have sex because of endometriosis, and the pain I suffered when I was sexually assaulted. Counseling, constant communication with my partner, and more counseling have helped me, but I can't say it's not a constant struggle.

Ad failed to load

When You Start To Resent Your Body


I don't want to resent my body, I want to love my body. Hell, my body has done some absolutely miraculous things (play basketball, stretch to great lengths to carry and birth another human being, sit around and watch The Office, carry myself to amazing placed=s and hold my brain so it can learn amazing things) but it's difficult for me to not, at times, hate my body, too. Endometriosis makes me feel like my body hates the person inside of it; like my body wants to hurt me; like my body is faulty and not to be trusted. It's hard to feel at war with the skin and bones and flesh that allow you to experience the world, even if, sometimes, that experience is painful.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

5 Parenting Habits That Increase Your Chances Of Successfully Potty-Training Your Child

From starting solids to learning to walk, every childhood milestone presents its own unique set of challenges — but this is especially true of potty training. Indeed, the very thought strikes fear into the heart of many a toddler parent, particularly…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Getting Pregnant Might Mean Losing The Plus-Size Body I Love

For the last two years, I haven’t been my body’s biggest champion. I’ve gained 50 pounds. The stress of helping a parent get sober, a house purchase, and a new job got the best of me. But now, at 36, with talks between my husband and I about having a…
By Loren Kleinman

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger