Endometriosis: a hidden epidemic
by PENNY TRANTER, Daily Mail
Penny Tranter fought endometriosis to have a baby
BBC weather presenter Penny Tranter suffers from a painful condition that affects nearly two million women but often goes undiagnosed for years. Here, she gives a moving account of her fight for her health - and fertility.
Endometriosis is a seemingly invisible gynaecological condition, but it affects up to two million women in the UK alone.
Recently a delegation of sufferers lobbied Parliament for more recognition for the condition. About 500,000 women are so severely affected that it has affected their relationships, fertility, work, and sport.
Endometriosis is a condition where the cells lining the womb appear in other areas of the body, usually within the pelvis.
Each month this tissue builds up then breaks down and bleeds in the same way as the womb lining. This internal bleeding has no way of leaving the body. This leads to inflammation, pain and scar tissue.
Endometrial tissue can also be found in the ovary, where it can form cysts. Classic symptoms are uncomfortable, heavy and long periods, painful sex, infertility and lethargy or extreme tiredness
On average it takes seven years for endometriosis to be diagnosed. Here I am typical. At 19 at college, my stomach pains were put down to being anxious about exams and essays.
At 20, while on an Inter-Rail trip with two friends, I had a nightmare of a period - heavy and long - and my limited supply of sanitary products had to make do.
We were in the former Yugoslavia, and I couldn't buy anything, as we couldn't speak the language. By 23, I was married and along with the increasing painful, heavy and long periods, sex was now becoming increasingly painful.
My boss described me as a 'Jekyll and Hyde' because I would have good days and bad days. Between 23 and 25, I visited my male GP more than 20 times with differing results. The Pill did not help so I was given increasingly strong painkillers.
At 25, I was referred to an urologist for suspected Irritable Bowel Syndrome. After examining my extremely tender, bloated stomach (another insidious symptom), he said I might have endometriosis and should be referred to a gynaecologist.
Before this, I had a pain attack in my abdomen, and my husband called out a different doctor from our surgery, and she declared I probably did have endometriosis.
As we were moving, she told me to find a good 'woman' GP and get myself referred to a gynaecologist.
At 26, I was diagnosed with moderate to severe endometriosis. The consultant put me on hormone treatment for six months. Then he recommended 'not hanging about to start a family'.
There is no miraculous cure, although hormonal drugs, surgery, and complementary therapies can help relieve pain, preserve or restore fertility and prevent/delay recurrence of the disease.
At least I could then tell family and friends why I was such a 'Jekyll and Hyde'. No one had heard of it, apart from one friend who recommended contacting the National Endometriosis Society.
This provided all kinds of interesting and essential information and I was able to read about other women in the same situation.
At 27, after the hormone treatment, my husband and I tried for a baby. Nothing happened. At 28, a new consultant found I was not ovulating properly. I also had sharp pains in the right hand side of my abdomen. He put me back on the hormone treatment.
A cyst was found in my right ovary attached to my abdomen wall. It hurt and I was often seeing my GP for painkiller .
For the next two years, we continued to try for a baby. As every month passed, it became harder to be optimistic.
At 30, I had a laparotomy to deal with the ovarian cyst, and also to try to improve my fertility. After a few days I realised the pain had gone, and I started to feel incredibly positive.
My consultant put me on a fertility drug, Clomid. A few months later, I was offered my BBC job.
At 31, my husband and I moved again. Luckily, I was transferred to another very good and under-standing GP and consultant who put me on a different fertility drug, Cyclofenil.
At 32, I became pregnant. Seeing the scan, when our son was six weeks old, was too much for my emotions. He was born just after my 33rd birthday, on a hot and sticky July night. His sister came along just over two years later, without the help of fertility drugs.
The endometriosis is now kept in remission by using the Pill and thankfully there has been little sign of a return - so I hope I am now more Hyde than Jekyll. • For more information about the Endometriosis Society, please see the website: www.endo.org.uk.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-67794/Endometriosis-hidden-epidemic.html#ixzz2MrXEnwLF
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