Cycle Diaries Vol 1: Pain is never the norm
11th October 2021
Welcome to the FEWE Cycle Diaries. Real people with cycles who have real stories to share. We believe there is no wellness with cycle care and our Cycle Diaries are here to give a platform for others to share their experiences. First up we have illustrator and sex educator Venus Libido...
PAIN IS NEVER THE NORM
I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2019, and I don't think I fully understood my cycle, how it worked or, in my case, affected my whole body until I was 27 years old.
Endometriosis (pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is the name given to the condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body. - www.Endometriosis-uk.org
For many, many years, I suffered from severe period pain, bloating, breakouts, back pain and vaginal pain, and like many others, I was just misdiagnosed and put on pain killers. As a result, I felt incredibly frustrated that my body always felt out of sync with how I felt mentally and physically.
Recent research shows that there is now an average of 7.5 years between people first seeing a doctor about their symptoms and receiving a firm diagnosis.- www.Endometriosis-uk.org
When I was diagnosed, I knew it was time to better understand my body and my cycle—learning to work with and not against it. So I started to focus on my diet, skincare, self-care, sexual health and wellbeing and most importantly, my periods. Re-learning what worked and what didn't work consisted of patience, trial and error, and, to be honest, many frustrated and persistent calls to the GP.
I sought second and third opinions, fled to the internet and my peers for answers and even reached out to fellow Endo sufferers for guidance. Which, in hindsight, was the most effective and formative way I learnt about my condition.
I learnt that my body needed rest way more than others, so saying no was a huge lesson I had to learn. Next, I worked out what foods caused flare-ups and even noticed a change in my skin, both on my face and around my pubic area. I even noticed that regular exercise reduced pain and, in turn, made me feel physically and mentally healthier. Overall the main focus was not feeling shame or guilt for prioritising myself and my physical health and pain.
Most importantly, I learned that pain was NOT normal and ignoring it was never the correct answer. Instead, it's best to listen to your body and seek solutions when something doesn't feel right, even if it takes getting that second, third, or fourth opinion.
The main symptoms to look out for in Endometriosis are painful periods, pain during or after sex, infertility, painful bowel movements and fatigue. However, depression, back pain and leg pain can also be indicators, and these were the three main symptoms for me.
If you are worried about any or all of the above, it's best to seek medical advice from your GP or ask to be referred to a gynaecologist.