Kathleen King, the Chairperson of the Endometriosis Association of Ireland, has spoken out on Worldwide Endometriosis month to highlight the condition.
The Donegal woman explained the realities faced by the one in ten women who have the condition. This month she has set out to guide women about the often unknown facts of Endometriosis.
Kathleen King has been living with Endometriosis for 28 years, since the age of 12. She was diagnosed in Derry at 20 years of age after attending various GPs all around the country. She has had several surgeries to remove endometriosis and treat her chronic pelvic pain.
This week on DonegalWoman.ie, Kathleen shared some of her experiences and the knowledge she gained from a life with the condition which has a similar incidence to diabetes or asthma:
Here are some of the key facts about Endometriosis:
1. Severe pain with periods is NOT normal. Pain that causes you to miss social or family events or pain that is not relieved by over the counter painkillers can be a sign of endometriosis.
2. Pain can be linked to your period, ovulation but also at other times of the cycle. The pain is usually pelvic, lower back and legs.
3. Pain during or after sex is not normal, and as it is not something we chat about a lot to our friends or even our partners, it can go unreported to GPs.
4. Pain during or after a bowel movement / urination can be symptoms of endometriosis. Passing blood from the rectum or in the urine may also be a sign.
5. Other symptoms include fatigue, severely bloated belly, irritable bowel type symptoms
6. In Ireland it can take an average of 9 years to be diagnosed.
7. It is one of the leading causes of infertility, but not every woman with endometriosis is infertile.
8. It can only be diagnosed by a laparoscopy (key hole surgery to look inside the pelvis) and biopsies sent to the lab. It does not normally show up on MRI or Ultrasound, but some cysts may show up.
9. Pregnancy, hysterectomy, removing the ovaries, taking the pill, using the coil, menopause – none of these will “cure” endometriosis.
10. Endometriosis can be managed by skilled surgeons with experience in excision surgery.
11. There are lots of self help options, starting with the Endometriosis Association of Ireland for information.
“As chairperson of the EAI, I am fortunate to live in Donegal where we have a good support network of women living with endometriosis,” Kathleen said.
“I have been living with this condition since my first period, when I was 12. I was diagnosed in Derry when I was 20 after attending various GPs all around the country. I have had several surgeries to remove my endometriosis and treat the chronic pelvic pain that has resulted.