Endometriosis is a body-wide disease where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus causing pain, organ dysfunction and/or infertility. An estimated 176 million women around the world have endometriosis and the average time from the onset of symptoms until diagnosis is 8 to 10 years (Endo What? Documentary, 2016). Getting the appropriate treatment can be challenging.
When I work with endometriosis in my sessions, I often go through my clients’ past medical experiences with them. We process their medical traumas where they felt possibly dismissed, ignored, ashamed and afraid. One of the treatment goals often includes correcting any misinformation that my clients had learned from their medical journey. In this blog, I want to provide you the 4 most common myths about endometriosis that come to my therapy room.
- Myth #1: Young women do not get endometriosis.
Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease. This means that from the moment a woman’s body starts to produce estrogen, she is at risk of developing endometriosis. This can be around the time that a young woman’s body and her reproductive system start, to develop such as maturation in breasts. Pain can be expressed differently in adolescent women compared to adult women. But you can develop endometriosis even before you have your first period, or before your first sexual experience.
- Myth #2: Painful periods or pain during sex is okay. You just need to deal with it.
Pain during sex is never okay. Sex should never be painful. You cannot just take a pain killer and move on. Endometriosis is associated with severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), interstitial cystitis (IC), pelvic floor muscular dysfunction, thyroid problems, and chronic fatigue. These are not the issues that you create in your mind. Painful periods are not normal. Your pain causes more suffering, your suffering may cause depression, and your depression feeds back to your pain. You cannot just deal with these, not without seeking professional help.
- Myth #3: A hysterectomy will cure endometriosis.
Many doctors recommend a hysterectomy with the idea that if you remove the uterus, you will eliminate the pain. This may not be the case for every woman. For example, if your estrogen treatment continues even after the hysterectomy, there is still a chance to experience endometriosis.
- Myth #4: Pregnancy cures endometriosis.
In the 1980s, it was assumed that endometriosis is a “career women’s disease”. This was a stereotype when in 1980s, white, educated, single women or women without children, women with health insurance were mostly the ones who were seeking treatment for their pelvic pain. Getting pregnant is not a cure. Bringing a child into this world is not a medical treatment. This is a decision a woman needs to make when and if she is ready to be a mother.
If you get diagnosed with endometriosis or experience pain during sex, seek therapy and let’s talk!