Funny Girls of Fertility

Endometriosis Awareness Month

Meg

Some women who are facing infertility may not be aware of endometriosis or may not carry any symptoms, but could still suffer in the future. No known cause or cure have been found either. Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus and attaches to ovaries, fallopian tubes and the lining of your pelvis. The tissue grows thicker and becomes trapped and bleeds during menstrual cycles hence where the pain usually transpires.

My first notable experience dealing with what I think was an early stage of endometriosis was when I was 19 years old and my mom took me to urgent care because “a cyst had burst”. Fast forward nine years, I was getting ready for work and fell to the bathroom floor. Not to sound like an overly dramatic hormonal female, but I thought I was dying.  I didn’t know what was physically happening to my body. I eagerly tore off all my clothes to feel the cold tile [from the bathroom floor] on my stomach just hoping it could ease the pain. With the strength God gave me, I somehow managed to arrange my first ambulance ride to the ER for the incompetent doctor to perform zero tests and verbally instruct me to take Advil.

After finding a woman’s specialty clinic a year or so later, I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 29 years old. With each passing month, the pain kept worsening. I couldn’t get out of bed for 18-24 hours at a time. It took 2-3 days to recover after “a flare up”. The pain sensitivity was so bad, I couldn’t even talk without having to use my diaphragm and any small movement paralyzed me. You feel like you’re being stabbed over and over! For those who share my story can agree 100%. Many times, I genuinely wished I owned a small handgun to shoot myself in the foot just to divert the pain. The disease really started to affect my work/life balance too. I felt depressed, helpless, like it was never going to feel better. I had no answers. At times, I felt like when I tried to explain the pain to family and friends, even my doctor, I sounded crazy, dramatic, overly sensitive. Another recent time in ER, morphine and dopamine COMBINED couldn’t ease the pain but only made me feel dizzy and flustered. The endometrial cysts grew to 9cm and 7cm located on both ovaries…we called them “my twins”.  Unfortunately, they grew back successfully after my first laparoscopic surgery. During it all, I tried the Mirena IUD for about nine months to stop ovulation in hopes of the endometrial cysts shrinking but they kept increasing in size and the pain grew worse and worse.

After searching for an alternative to a second laparoscopic, my good friend, who was experiencing the same trauma, referred me to a doctor back in my hometown who helped pioneer the Lupron Depot shot back in the ‘80s [to treat endometriosis] and has sought amazing results for his patients. Lupron Depot shot [Leuprolide, pictured above] is a synthetic hormone released in the bloodstream (via alternating butt cheeks once a month), which reduces estrogen and shrinks the uterine tissue. It’s supposed to minimize the lesions and pain levels.

The known side effects: hot flashes, night sweats, chills, clammy skin, tiredness, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, upset stomach, breast swelling, acne, increased facial hair growth, joint or muscle pain, insomnia, reduced sexual interest, vaginal discomfort, dizziness, weakness, skin redness/itching, memory loss… oh my gosh the list keeps going like on a Lyrica commercial.

I have been taking the Lupron shot (3.75mg) for 9 months now and the only three side effects that really stand out are: hot flashes, night sweats, and memory loss – I act like somewhat of a menopausal mess, BUT the pain has reduced by almost 90% because I’m not ovulating. If you read reviews online, they’ll scare you half to death.  Every woman’s body reacts differently just like with any injected hormone. Since the doctor deemed my case “severe”, I’m prescribed to the Lupron Depot for up to two years. He is staying optimistic it’ll bring me the best results. In the meantime, I’m not even sure I want to bear children. In fact, I’m not even sure I CAN have children. Just in case that time comes, I want to save all my delicate lady parts so I can ensure a shot at success.

If this is your first time reading about the disease, I hope this was helpful and hoping you may have found some answers. If you are suffering from endometriosis, I feel you. You have options though. It’s always good to get a second or even a third opinion because it’s a challenge to find a doctor who truly understands your condition. You want to feel confident that the doctor knows exactly how to treat the severity too. My advice is to research. It’s not curable but it’s manageable.  My hope is the more we talk about it, the more we share our stories, the more effort will be given to find a lifeline.