Melissa experienced endometriosis symptoms from a very young age. Read more about her experience and her tips for getting diagnosed with endometriosis.
"My advice to young girls going through what I went through is simple – Don’t give up!"
From my first period, my life changed and I quickly had to get used to it. I had very heavy bleeding, blood clots and extreme pain during my period and ovulation. By Year Ten I was struggling so much, I ended up having a lot of time off school, which had a huge effect on my studies.
I tried the contraceptive pill amongst other things. I kept being told that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome or that it was all just in my head! I felt so alone and like nobody knew what I was going through.
As the years went by my symptoms got progressively worse. College was hard and just getting through the day required a lot of effort. My ability to work, socialise and maintain a relationship were all massively impacted by how ill I was. My periods were lasting two weeks with five to six weeks breaks between. I experienced heavy blood loss, clotting and painful sex.
At 18 I asked to be put on a contraceptive to stop my periods due. Finally, I felt that I was being taken seriously. An ultrasound scan revealed a cyst on my ovary, but the gynaecologist she said that she doubted I had endometriosis. She begrudgingly agreed that I could have a laparoscopy to put my mind at rest.
The laparoscopy showed I did have endometriosis. I was so relieved that it wasn’t just in my head but then the reality hit me that I was stuck with an illness with no cure and very little understand¬ing or awareness.
Since being diagnosed I’ve had a few operations and have tried various treatments but haven’t been able to find something that works for me. I am on a diet now to control my endometriosis symptoms at the moment and not having any other treatment.
Getting diagnosed – my tips
My advice to young girls going through what I went through is simple – Don’t give up! You know that what you’re experiencing is not normal and you know that it is not all just in your head.
- Share as much information with the doctors as possible
- Keep a diary of your symptoms may also be useful and will help you remember important information
- Most importantly of all, keep going to your doctors, keep explaining and keep demanding to be listened to
Although doctors are trained to deal with thousands of conditions, they don’t always immediately recognise the symptoms of endometriosis because they are similar to other common conditions.
Becoming a support group leader
I am currently still not able to work due to recurring pain and illness, but I have used my time, energy and experience to get involved with Endometriosis UK. I am working hard to spread awareness of Endometriosis as a support group leader.
The Endometriosis UK support groups are very important for women with endometriosis. It is nice meeting others and knowing you aren't alone with some symptoms. It’s just good to have support and somewhere to talk about it. You can discuss your symptoms and feelings with people who truly understand.
Once diagnosed it’s important to remember that your life is not over. It may be different to the one you had hoped for, but with the right support and positive attitude, it can still be a very happy one!
Melissa is the group leader for the Endometriosis UK Enfield Support Group.