OK ladies and any man who isn't terrified of reproductive systems (or just isn't educated about them and compares women's reproductive systems to chickens- this happened last week and I am still laughing)- this one's for you. For anyone who hasn't seen my 20 minute Instagram rant today, I am writing this because I am frankly sick and tired of not being taken seriously by medical professionals, as is every single woman living with anything like this.
I am a firm believer that we should be able to speak freely about our bodies. I am also very aware of the fact that women are not taken seriously and that reproductive health is completely overlooked, which makes it extremely difficult for women to speak out. It took me a very long time to speak to anyone in my life about my pain. I figured it was normal. As it worsened, I was afraid I would be labeled dramatic, so I still kept quiet. As I am moving through this journey, I am learning that silence is deadly. I am learning that if we are not proactive about this, no one will be. As of now, we are shamed for speaking out about our bodies and what happens in them. This conversation needs to be normalized and it needs to be normalized NOW. Feel free to share with anyone you feel might benefit from this.
Millions of women have suffered tremendously at the hands of diseases like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), adenomyosis, endometriosis and any other reproductive issue that I might be missing (I see and validate y'all, I just don't know enough about anything else to write about it).
I am ONE in TEN women experiencing (what doctors have said is) PCOS and Endometriosis (unofficially, only because they have yet to perform exploratory surgery). Endometriosis takes an average of 8 doctors and 10 years to diagnose. It is thousands of dollars, hundreds of nights spent on the floor in pain, multiple medical professionals standing over you looking confused, dozens of perfect test results with no explanation, feeling completely invalidated, dozens of people telling you to take an Advil and move on with your life. It is days of missed work and mental exhaustion. It is rolling your eyes at stupid comments like "well, my sister ate kale every day for a week and it cured her endometriosis". It is trying weird fads like the keto diet and stretches that only make it worse. It is calling your best friend to come walk your dog because getting out of bed feels like being attacked by a shark. It is dozens of ultrasounds, surgical procedures, and for many women, even miscarriages or infertility. It is "I'm just really tired today" and cancelled plans. It is having doctors look you in the eye and tell you "It is fine. One day, we can try IVF". It is random diagnoses like PMDD and IBS because they just don't know what else to tell you. It is ultrasound technicians telling you honestly that something looks very wrong, and doctors telling you that you are fine. It is trials of birth control pills because it is far easier for medical professionals to attempt to control it than to actually treat it. It is embarrassment and humiliation. It is consistently questioning yourself. It is constant apology. It is making life decisions based on your condition. It is feeling like you're going to faint or fainting from blood loss. It is uncomfortable or painful sexual experiences. It is women like me calling the doctors office crying out of pain and frustration, and male doctors telling you to go to the emergency room- they can't do anything for you. It is "you don't look sick" and "but you always seem fine, you hide it really well". It is moving about your daily life with a smile on your face, and not wanting anyone to know that you are suffering. It is multiple different unofficial diagnoses with no answers in the near future.
If you experience any of the following, I ask you to PLEASE see a doctor. I don't know who needs to hear this, but your suffering is not normal.
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
- Pain in between periods
- Vomiting or fainting due to abdominal pain
- Unexplained miscarriage
- Fertility issues
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain with sexual activity
If you or anyone you love is experiencing any of the things I mentioned in this post, for the LOVE OF GOD- please do not dismiss them. Please let them know that they are seen, and help them find answers if you know how. The answer to all of this is pretty simple- for these issues to ever be solved, we need to normalize them. We need to be able to talk about them without judgement, without stigma.