Emily Tenby

If you have never heard of Endometriosis, don’t worry you are not alone, 20% of women have never heard of the condition, a shocking statistic when taking into account that 1.5 Million women are currently suffering from the disease here in the UK. Caused when cells like the ones found inside the lining of the womb, grow on the outside of the Uterus, Ovaries and Fallopian Tubes, Endometriosis causes inflammation, pain and scar tissue which can lead to infertility, fatigue, bowel and bladder problems.

Next Saturday marks the 3rd anniversary of EndoMarch here in the UK, supporters across the globe take place in a peaceful march to raise awareness of those suffering from the disease. As I will be unable to attend the event this year, I wanted to share my own experience of living with the condition in support. Be warned this is a wordy post and not for the faint hearted, so if you’re eating breakfast you might want to finish up before continuing.

Like many girls, I had my first period at the age of 11, I was in my last few months of primary school and I remember feeling a dull ache at the bottom of my stomach, followed by the sensation of feeling like I’d just wet myself. A quick trip to the loo confirmed my suspicions that I had just experienced what it felt like to have a period and so I sent a trusted friend to get a teacher as I was completely unprepared. The teacher came into the toilet with a sanitary towel and passed it to me, she then shook my hand and said ‘Welcome to womanhood’. Little did I know Womanhood was going to make my life utterly miserable at times.

By the time I was 13 my periods had become unbearable, they were extremely heavy and terribly painful, I was missing days at school and having to excuse myself from sports. It was embarrassing always having to make excuses, and I swear the teachers thought I was just being lazy, little did they know that I used to really enjoy sport, in fact exercise would ease the pain, but at school I felt self-conscious, that any extra exertion would cause embarrassment in the changing rooms after.

As I started to get older I was beginning to get more and more frustrated that I was starting to miss out on the experiences my other friends were having just because of my period. When I was 16 I was invited on a school trip to Barcelona. Before then I had never been on a trip away for more than a day, as without a word of a lie every trip would fall on ‘my time of the month’ and I just couldn’t take the added stress. However as I was nearly at the end of school I forced myself to go, lots of my friends were going and I didn’t want to miss out. However, there was one thing worrying me. Yup you’ve guessed it! My dreaded period was due the day we were to fly and it was going to mean I would miss out on the luxury of relaxing around the pool in my bikini or even going swimming.

I was determined to fit it on that holiday, so a month or so before we were due to go, I tried Tampons, but they were too painful, so I resigned myself to knowing, I had just set myself up for the most miserable trip ever. Anticipating 30 degree heat, I packed my suitcase full of trousers and big pants, whilst everyone else packed bikinis and short skirts. To be honest the holiday wasn’t that bad and I ended up dodging the swimming pool completely to avoid any awkward questions, but I knew as soon as I got home, something had to be done, I couldn’t live like this forever.