Which usually gets the response 'endo-what?'.
One in ten women have endometriosis (pronounced end-oh-me-tree-oh-sis if you're wondering...). Most of those remain undiagnosed with it usually taking 7.5 years to get a diagnosis. It took 16 years for mine.
It's something that people don't talk about. It's "women's troubles".
It's "bloody hell".
So, in the interests of creating awareness, here's my story.
I've had endometriosis since I was 12. I thought I had a really low pain threshold because I couldn't cope with what I thought was 'normal' period pain. I went to the doctor repeatedly and basically got fobbed off. At uni, I was diagnosed with IBS and depression, both of which I knew I didn't have. My doctor refused to prescribe stronger painkillers. All the time the pain was getting worse, usually lasting eight days or so. When I graduated and started work, I often had to have a week off work each month - I'd managed to get stronger pain relief by then, and just stayed in bed zonked out on opiates and alcohol. At worst I couldn't stand up because it simply hurt too much.
I was finally diagnosed at 28 when I demanded a laparoscopy. The operation went wrong very quickly, with a huge haemorrhage and an emergency admission. But I had my diagnosis. By that point though, it was too late to do anything about it - I have stage 4 endometriosis (as bad as it gets) and adhesions (=scars) that 'stick' my pelvic organs together. Due to the adhesions, I would be a high risk hysterectomy (I'd haemorrhage, and risk significant bowel and bladder damage). Fortunately I've never wanted kids, as this got swiftly ruled out at this point too.
Fortunately at this point my doctor suggested diet and exercise as a way to cope with the pain, and (when well) I embraced this enthusiastically. And it worked, to some extent. But I have an incurable condition, which I manage the symptoms of, but it's still in there and it's getting worse each day. And I am one of the lucky ones. I no longer have pain, I no longer have 'flooding' (I won't disturb you with the details of that, but it's the most horrific thing I've experienced) due to treatment I have. Treatment that won't cure the condition, or stop it getting worse. Treatment that also causes osteoporosis. Nice.
If this sounds like you, like your wife, your sister, your mum then go and check out this website.
If you have painful periods, or heavy periods, or think of a certain time each month as "bloody hell", go see your GP and ask about endometriosis.
And keep asking. Over and over again.
Eventually they may actually listen.