Endometriosis affects around one in ten women in Australia, many of whom have to go through multiple doctors and misdiagnoses before being told what’s causing their pain.
The most commonly known symptom of the condition is extremely painful periods – which is what often contributes to women being dismissed or not being believed – however, there are a number of other, less expected symptoms, that sufferers experience and may not be aware are associated with endo.
One is a sharp, stabbing pain in the bowel.
“I would sit down and it would literally feel like a knife is going up me, as disgusting as that sounds,” endo sufferer Ally Thomson tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“It honestly, and this is a little bit graphic, it felt like someone was putting a knife inside my bowel,” agrees radio personality Mel Greig.
“It just felt like this sharp, stabbing pain when I had to go to the toilet. To be on the toilet and then you have to fall on the floor and curl up because the pain makes you scream it’s so excruciating.”
In severe cases, endometriosis can occur in the bowel, but according to Endometriosis Australia, “The majority of women with endometriosis can experience a number of bowel-related symptoms, but reassuringly only a few of these women will have endometriosis that has spread to the bowel.”
Unfortunately for Miss Universe Australia contestant Tasha Ross, she needed surgery to help with her bowel pain.
“I didn’t know that endometriosis could affect your bowels, and mine was quite severe,” she tells us.
“About six months ago I had my last laparoscopy surgery and it was found that my stomach and my bowels had been glued together by the endometriosis which they ended up separating.”
Tasha wasn’t diagnosed for nine years, and in an emotional Instagram post says that the bloating can make her “look a few months pregnant.” Similarly, Mel Greig has shared a photo of her bloating where she specified she is ‘#notpregnant’ but has ‘#endobelly’.
Bloating, cramps, pelvic pain and pain during sex, are other common symptoms, and some endometriosis sufferers also experience fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, depression and anxiety.
For Emily George, endometriosis means fatigue and brain fog.
“For me the most unexpected symptom of endo has been the brain fog that I get in the first few days of my period,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“It’s like a fatigue that drags me down, and I can’t function like I normally do, I can’t drive and I get to the end of the few days having forgotten who chunks of what I did.”
March is endometriosis awareness month, for more information, check out Endometriosis Australia.
Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.