Written by a Tempdrop user
To tell this story, I must start at the beginning.
Way back when I was a young teenager and I started having my first periods, the pain was always excruciating. My memory of them is horrendous. I had to have heavy pain medications and usually had to get picked up from school to go home. The pain was so intense, I’d be doubled over in the sick room every time. I remember one particularly bad cycle, I fainted and landed in hospital with concussion.
My journey as a women started out rough. Every month I dreaded this natural, necessary event. Did I have endometriosis from the beginning? I’ll never know because my diagnosis only came in my 30s. In my teens, I never wondered if this could be abnormal: no doctor ever flagged it as such to me.
In my early 20s, I fell pregnant and felt so well. I loved the break from the hormonal roller coaster I'd experienced. I had a normal pregnancy with no issues and continued to feel well afterwards when I breastfed for 10 months. When my periods returned, they weren't as bad as before. But this was the calm before the storm.
Around the age of 24, I decided to take the pill for the first time in my life for birth control. This was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made, as my body would never be the same again. I was on it for one year, and started to get some really bad psychological problems from it. It made me very anxious, depressed and paranoid, the way I was feeling put a huge strain on my marriage. The same had happened with my mother, it also caused her emotional issues and was ordered off it by my dad.
Once I stopped the pill, because it had shut down all my hormones the hell began. I developed what I suspected to be PCOS and eventually the painful periods returned with a vengeance. The pain was worse than I had ever experienced before. All the pain meds I could take wouldn’t ease the pain, including Codeine. I would be in bed for days which made life very difficult as I tried to cope with motherhood. The pain was searing, burning, and relentless. Eventually a friend said to me, this isn’t normal. You need to get checked out. My doctor dismissed me as “just having it bad.” They never did any further investigation at the time.
Fast forward to 2010, when I’d reached the end of my tether, I was finally referred to a gynaecologist when I said to her that I just couldn’t cope any longer, she agreed to send me for a laparoscopy. This is still the only method for diagnosing endometriosis, a condition affecting 1 in 10 women.
To no surprise, they found mild endometriosis, or endo. It disrupted my life so much and was just mild endo. Some women have a little endo and a lot of pain. That was me. It was a relief to know, though, that I wasn't going crazy, nor did I have a “Codeine addiction” which was implied by one doctor. Finally, after 8 years plus, I had a diagnosis.
The laparoscopy with excision helped me immensely, and I felt almost immediate relief. What they called the gold standard of treatment for endo lasted 5 years, I had much less pain during that time. Eventually though the pain returned with a vengeance again. I was getting pain mid cycle, and extreme tiredness. I was newly re-married and didn’t want to be feeling like this. It affected all areas of my life. This time I was referred to a specialist treatment centre for endometriosis at a women’s hospital.
The doctors were adamant that I have synthetic hormones to control the pain. This was not an option for me, given the havoc the pill had caused me emotionally the first time. I was now in my late thirties, and the other option they offered to me was to put me into early menopause with GnRH agonists. That did not feel like a solution to me, so I asked to see a surgeon. He was really helpful and said if I didn’t want synthetic hormones then I shouldn’t have to have them. I was booked in for my second laparoscopy. This time they found moderate endo with lesions all over my internal organs.
Again, I found immediate relief. I hoped it would last another 5 years. Sadly it didn’t and two years later I was getting intense pain again. I was really beginning to grow tired of this. Deep down, I felt there must be another way. A friend of mine introduced me to Tempdrop. She said that if I tracked my basal body temperature it would give me good information with what was happening with my hormones and my health. I learned how to track my cycle, and was helped by the team at Tempdrop to identify that I did have low progesterone levels. They recommended that I work with a practitioner to find out what was really going on so that I could heal my body.
I found a really great functional medicine doctor that was highly qualified and experienced in prescribing bio-identical hormones. We did blood tests, as well as urine and stool samples. Sure enough I had many nutrient deficiencies. B12, Vitamin D (no matter how much sun I get I am always deficient), Low DHEA, low progesterone, almost no iodine, and stressed adrenals. Once these important things were addressed with good quality supplements, diet changes (no dairy and gluten), slowly things started turning around. Finally I started feeling better than I have in a very long time. I still have some work to do, and still have to be vigilant with my diet. I have so much more energy, and my pain in some cycles has been almost non-existent! Most of the time, I have been able to carry on with my day and not be bed-bound. That has been completely impossible for more than a decade.
The biggest take-away from my story is you can overcome endometriosis. The seemingly impossible is possible. You may have to fight to get a diagnosis, but ultimately you know deep down that something isn’t right. Extremely painful periods ARE NOT NORMAL. Don’t settle for synthetic hormones or surgery either, because these are just treating the symptoms not the root cause. You need to find the root cause and you can only do that with a good functional medicine or naturopathic doctor. Test don’t guess, to find out what is really going on in your body. Track your cycle, and track your health with Tempdrop to give you a starting point and to monitor if the changes that you are making are working. Believe that you can get better. You can and you will, you just need the right help.
Thank you Tempdrop for helping me start my journey to recovery!