What is Endometriosis and how period underwear can help
By Avery Price from Starting Sustainable
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis. Know what it is? It’s okay if you don’t. Most people have never even heard of the disease that affects 1 in 9 Australian women, or 200 million women worldwide (Source: Endometriosis Australia). Described by some women as pain so blinding it can feel like “angry little bombs exploding in your lower belly” or “a struggle to even survive”, many endo warriors (as they’re rightfully called) still battle to get diagnosed with endometriosis. Typically, establishing an endometriosis treatment plan is left up to those fighting alone with the disease. While some women seek relief by wearing loose clothing or period underwear during their “flare-ups”, overall there is a growing need for more support, compassion and awareness around this silent, unfamiliar disease.
“A disease that affects 1 in 9 Australian women”
What causes Endometriosis pain?
To put it simply, Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue SIMILAR to the lining of the uterus is found OUTSIDE the uterus; causing pain, inflammation & sometimes organ dysfunction & infertility. Endometrial tissue can grow on your ovaries, bowels, and tissue lining on your pelvis. (Source: Healthline). As you might imagine, an unnatural spider web of tissues growing and tugging on places it shouldn’t can cause painful complications. For women with endometriosis, this misplaced endometrial tissue causes extreme inflammation which may be felt inside and outside of the body. The inflamed, bloated belly associated with endometriosis has been coined “endo belly” and the episodes of severe pain are called “flare-ups”.
Embed post from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMMVvq-D7bW/
Painful periods are not normal
Painful periods are not normal. Symptoms of endometriosis may present, early on, as mild to moderate cramps or heavy bleeding but sharp abdominal pains and debilitating discomfort are clear signs you, or someone you love, should get checked for endometriosis. Because endometriosis can build from a mild to severe condition over time, it is easy for those living with endometriosis (and their doctors) to overlook or shrug off the serious symptoms they are experiencing. Sadly, it takes most women with endometriosis years of fighting through the medical world to get a clear diagnosis.
As one endo warrior, Olivia, chose to share for this article, “[I] got frustrated that more scans weren’t done earlier… endometriosis doesn’t show up on blood work or external scans”. She had to persist and fight the system until she found a GP who specialized in women’s health. “Finding a good GP that specializes in women’s health makes a world of difference”, Olivia recommends to anyone who believes they might have endometriosis.
“Finding a good GP that specializes in women’s health makes a world of difference”
– Olivia, a woman living with endometriosis
Symptoms of endometriosis
- Pelvic pain, worst during periods
- Debilitating abdominal cramps
- Long menstruation (1-2 weeks)
- Heavy flow
- Painful bowel movements or urination during your cycle
- Pain during intercourse
- Lower back pain during period
Do any of these symptoms sound too familiar? If you, or someone you know, has been experiencing any symptoms of endometriosis, listed above, talk to a GP today. Starting the diagnosis process early on can save years of pain.
How to cope with endometriosis
First, remember you are not alone
“You don’t look sick”. “Heavy periods are normal”. “It’s just a bad period”.
For any woman who’s experienced a painful, heavy period – these kinds of comments are unhelpful and condescending. For women with endometriosis pain, these kinds of comments can be infuriating, leaving them feeling even more misunderstood and alone. Yes, you can’t see endometriosis on the outside of your body but that doesn’t make it extremely real.
Women living with endometriosis pain are true warriors. Dropping plans at the last minute because of a flare-up. Having a hospital bag ready to go for a day or night when the pain becomes too much to bare. Resting in bed with a hot pack down your underwear for hours on a beautiful day. These are all realities of living with endometriosis, realities that 1 in 9 Australian women face. Remember, you are not alone. More resources are popping up, like The Endo Space on Instagram, to raise awareness and offer reassurance to women learning how to cope with endometriosis.
Second, here’s what works
Endometriosis is a disease with no cure. It’s a chronic pain that millions of women have learned how to “deal with”. For many women, whose pain is mild to moderate, certain techniques prove effective to curb the pain. For others, with more severe pain, learning how to cope with endometriosis is a constant journey and surgery is one of few options that may bring true relief.
Medication and heat packs
As Olivia, describes, “I probably go through a pack of Ponstan a fortnight-month depending on how bad it is… and multiple heat packs”. For her, some months are worse than others and she’s learned to listen to her body. Her advice to get through a rough flare-up or endometriosis pain? – “taking medication as soon as you feel the tiniest bit of pain makes a lot of difference as I find it takes the edge off the whole experience even if it’s still really bad”.
“Taking medication as soon as you feel the tiniest bit of pain makes a lot of difference as I find it takes the edge off the whole experience even if it’s still really bad”.
– Olivia, a woman living with endometriosis
Balms and drops
Blossom Earth have created a miracle ointment that relieves the pain, spasms, cramps, and heaviness associated with Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, PCOS as well as period and ovulation pain. The feedback is that their Pain End-O balm gives women back their freedom to function and enjoy life again!
Pain End-o is also great for late pregnancy, labour and early postpartum. Customers have also reported a regulating of their cycle and decrease in the size of cysts.
Blossom Earth also has Hormonal Nausea Flower Essence Drops that helps with the nausea from endometriosis.
Period underwear and how it helps endometriosis
Getting your period during a flare-up? Nothing could be worse. When tampons are out of the question and pads feel too unreliable against a heavy flow, period underwear like My Humble Earth’s Low Rise Period Underwear or high rise Organic Cotton Period Underwear are both great options. With technology that fights against unwanted leakage and odours, sexy and sustainable period underwear will make you wonder why you ever used disposable pads in the first place. Plus, these period underwear options are “so bloody comfy”, as Christy from The Endo Space, describes – they’ll stretch with your body through the bloat and help relieve discomfort not add to it!
Laparoscopic Excision (LAPEX) surgery is one path women fighting severe endometriosis pain can take to overcome chronic pain. The goal of LAPEX surgery is to carefully cut out the disease from all areas within the abdomen, without damaging the otherwise healthy organs. While this surgery is intense and invasive, it has been proven to relieve the pain associated with endometriosis and improve patients’ quality of life both mentally and physically (Source: Pundir et al., 2017).
Let’s end the silence and talk about endo
So, maybe you’re not experiencing endo, but chances are you know someone who is. What can you do to help? First and foremost, be an ally. Be by their side when they need you without judgement and instead, with love. Even though their pain may not be visible to you it is still very real.
Give them grace when they miss a girls’ night and check in the at end of the month, just in case. If you’re a gift-giver, pick up a pair of period underwear for them to try. If acts of kindness are more your style, offer to be their go-to person if they ever need a run to the pharmacy or, on especially tough nights, a trip to the emergency room.
But second, and perhaps most important of all – talk about endo! Share your story or the story of the person you love. Help raise awareness and end the stigma around this silent disease that affects so many women. Share posts, just like this. Learn what is endometriosis. Follow and share awareness from accounts like The Endo Space. If more people know about endometriosis, there will be more hope for finding a cure.
Claudia. (2021). Me Myself and Endometriosis Blog. https://www.instagram.com/me_myself_and_endometriosis/
Endometriosis Australia. (2021). Ten endometriosis facts. Retrieved from https://www.endometriosisaustralia.org/research
Healthline. (2021). Endometriosis. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/endometriosis
Pundir J., Omanwa K., Kovoor E., Pundir V., Lancaster G., Barton-Smith P. (2017). Laparoscopic excision versus ablation for endometriosis-associated pain: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecol. 24(5):747-756.