In my last post I talked about some of the symptoms that people should use as warning signs for endometriosis. Many of them are common, and those who have heard of endo often associate them with it – pain, infertility, weird periods. But what about the others – recurrent UTIs and thrush? They were the bane of my life for a long time, particularly if they occurred at the same time.
What are some other things people might not think of that endo causes? I’m only going to talk about physical issues today, as the emotional and mental ones really deserve their own post.
One big physical one for me is exhaustion. I’m tired all the time. Getting up, particularly in winter when I’m inevitably stiff, is really hard, mentally and physically. Trying to will yourself out of bed through that kind of crushing exhaustion is like fighting through treacle. I can only compare it to the time I had glandular fever.
Another effect is the useless immune system. I get sick all the time. If there is a bug going round, I’ll catch it, and the effects will be twice as bad as they should be and last twice as long. Right now I’m in week 4 of a sinus infection that started as a pretty innocent cold, which has already cost me six sick days I can’t afford and three different prescriptions.
Endometriosis can also effect your bowel in a pretty big way, even without the endo growing there. Before endometriosis I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to be constipated and have diarrhoea at the same time. Turns out it is, and I can tell you, it is really unpleasant. Also, pooping can hurt, even when there is no real reason. So can eating. Sometimes your guts will just ache for funsies.
In addition to UTIs, it can have other effects on your bladder. Some people experience painful urination all the time, even without an infection. Others experience incontinence. I find that, if I don’t go to the bathroom within about ten seconds of realising I need to, I start to get a sharp ache in my bladder that doesn’t let up until I go.
I’ve also got gastritis as a result of the endometriosis, which is where the stomach produces too much acid, resulting in pain after eating, nausea, and acid reflux. Thankfully this seems to be limited to flare-ups for me.
Another problem for a lot of people is backache, even with no injury or stress to the back. This can be excruciating and I find it often radiates down my legs as far as my ankles, and sometimes even into my feet. Other joints may hurt as well, again for no good reason.
Whilst your periods will probably continue with the sort of agony you have become accustomed to, if that’s one of your symptoms, you may also find that you get odd pelvic pain when not menstruating. There’ll be random aches, stinging, stabbing, cramping, and maybe even pins and needles inside your body. That’s a weird one – like an itch you can’t scratch.
You will probably also suffer the delightful phenomenon that is “endo belly”. That is, you’ll swell up like you’re about to give birth and nothing will make it go down. It’s one of my personal favourites. I’m normally a fairly trim gal, but as you can see in the featured picture for this article, sometimes it just pops out and swells right past my bosom with neither warning nor permission. That particular day it happened in the work bathroom, so please excuse my sneaky shot there.
There are many symptoms here that I haven’t listed. If you don’t experience any of these, it doesn’t mean that you are any less a sufferer of endometriosis. If you experience ones I haven’t listed, you aren’t weird, your pain is real, and you deserve to be believed.
Please feel free to comment with your own experiences, particularly if you feel things I haven’t listed here. You never know, someone else may read it and go, “I thought that was just me!”
In my next post I’ll talk about some of my tips and tricks for dealing with the symptoms listed. Please comment below with your favourites!