Farmer Wants a Wife star Jess Nathan has opened up about her "debilitating" battle with stage 4 Endometriosis, revealing how "confused and scared" she was when she was first diagnosed.
Speaking to 7Life the 27-year-old said she knew something was wrong when she began having painful and heavy periods as a teenager.
The reality star admitted she didn't want to come across as a "sook" even though her monthly pain was "excruciating".
When she eventually saw a GP she was referred to a gynaecologist, who later told her she’d probably had endometriosis from about the age of 13 or 14.
Ultrasounds then revealed cysts and shadows and she was booked in for her first endo surgery, after which it was confirmed she did have stage 4 endometriosis - the most serious type - which was affecting her ovaries and bowel.
"I was confused, scared, devastated,” she told the publication. "I started crying and screaming for my mum.
"In my head at that moment, all I could think was that I would never be a mother."
Jess only recently moved in with her partner is Andrew Guthrie, the Victorian farmer she met and fell in love with on the Channel Seven dating show.
Endometriosis occurs when cells similar to those that line the uterus are found in other parts of the body, commonly a woman's pelvic and reproductive organs.
While there is no cure for endometriosis yet, surgery can remove the tissue, which can help to reduce pain but won’t necessarily preventing it from growing back.
Jess explained her symptoms consist of heavy cramps, (“like period pain on steroids”), headaches, bloating, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depression and constipation.
She also said her iron levels are "always a bit out of whack" and she becomes "rundown and sick easily".
"It can be completely debilitating and can be really difficult to express to someone who doesn’t have endo or had someone close to them suffer," she added.
Jess has been open about sharing her journey online in the hopes of continuing to spread awareness of the physical and mental toll it can take, as well as to remind sufferers that they are not alone.
About 1 in 9 women in Australia develop endometriosis by their 40s.
"Chronic illnesses can feel isolating and deflating and my heart goes out big time to anyone suffering with an illness," Jess shared in an Instagram post five days post endo surgery back in November.
"I am so stoked to have come out of surgery and be told I won’t have issues conceiving. I have been grossly emotional which I’m going to blame on hormones, but being able to have a baby naturally (of course nothing’s guaranteed, but🤞) is my dream and I’m just so happy about it (when the time’s right, chill out everyone)."
All up, Jess has had three surgeries and hopes to not need anymore until after she's had children.
"Nothing’s guaranteed, but I’ve got absolute faith in the advice and the opinion of my medical professionals," she told 7Life.
Her followers have thanked Jess for her openness online and praised her for continuing to spread awareness.
"From one endo warrior to another thank you for sharing and spreading the much needed awareness. I'm stage 4 as well. Such a tough journey to be on and very isolating but onwards and upwards I guess," one person commented.
"Take care. Thanks for sharing, it's such a tough road. You are amazing and I hope your recovery goes to plan," another person responded.
Jess hopes sharing her story will help other women not downplay their own symptoms either.
"Endo can feel scary and lonely and isolating," she shared. "To the women out there suffering, don’t underestimate your condition.
"You are allowed to feel pain and emotion and just because someone can’t see or understand what you’re going through doesn’t make it any less real.
"Stay strong endo sisters!! There’s an army of us out there."
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