Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so the tips provided in this post should not be considered medical advice. I am simply sharing what has been helpful for me, and it is possible that our bodies may respond differently. Consult with your doctor. This post also contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that has been recommended. This is at no extra cost to you.
Ever since I was a teenager, I battled horrendous physical pain on a monthly basis. This pain interfered with my life to the point that I couldn't get out of bed away from a heating pad, and I missed out on a lot. To top it off, I often worried that other people didn't understand and thought I was 'faking.' As I got into my twenties, the pain became present more often than not and had become unbearable. Even prescription pain killers did not fully help. I won't go into depth with the horrors of all that, but you get my drift.
For years I had been to doctors, wondering what was wrong, only to be told the pain was "normal." I began to think that I was just weak and something was wrong with me. I thought that maybe others felt the pain too, and they were just tougher and able to cope. I tried to press on, but the pain caused me to not be able to go to work, hang out socially, and even sent me into depression.
Finally, when I was 27, my doctor suggested that I have a laparoscopy to detect if there was anything going on inside that maybe couldn't be detected from an ultrasound. Within the procedure, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, which honestly came as such a relief because I finally knew the pain was not just 'in my head.' However, this also came with a heavy burden because there is no cure, and the only treatment is to 'manage' it.
Surgeries only help to an extent, and the reality is that most women end up having multiple surgeries because it seems to reappear more often than not. Other treatments include hormones and prescription pain pills, which are not ideal, and have a plethora of their own side effects. Even hysterectomies apparently do not guarantee that you will be rid of the disease.
After that first surgery, I felt some relief for about 6 months, until the constant pain returned. I put up with it for 3 more years, but I was gradually spiraling downward and the pain was worsening. I eventually was glued to my heating pad and would have major anxiety a week before my cycle because I knew then that the pain would soon be more than I could bear.
Eventually, as I was approaching my early thirties, I was fed up. Enough was enough. I knew God had His hand on me all along, and that he was giving me the strength to hang on, but I also knew that something had to change. So far I had been using prescription pain medication (over the counter would not even phase it), heating pads, and a TENS unit. They helped some, but I still couldn't participate in daily life.
I started researching other treatments for it, and I stumbled upon the research about excision surgery and its promising results. Apparently it is the 'gold standard' of treatment, as the disease is excised out entirely, and is much less likely to return.
I found that there are only a handful of surgeons that perform this procedure in the U.S., but was encouraged to find that there was one in Atlanta, GA, which was a reasonable drive from where I live in northern Kentucky. I started reading more and more about Center For Endometriosis Care and finding information that renewed my hope that maybe they would be willing to help me. I knew it would be a big undertaking and an expensive route, but I also knew that I needed my life back.
For the remainder of this post, I'll be sharing with you the steps I took to go through with this process, the results, and other measures I have taken since then to conquer this beast (hopefully and Lord-willing) once and for all. I pray if you are suffering from unbearable pain that you too can find relief from it.
#1 Excision Surgery at Center for Endo
So I went through with the surgery. It was not easy, but it was incredibly worth it. All the staff and surgeons at Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta are the most compassionate health professionals I have ever encountered. They are understanding, patient, good listeners, accommodating, and reassuring. And you need all those qualities when you are getting ready to have major surgery!
Plus, they are the best of the best and I found out that women were coming from all over the world to get their surgeries there. The hospital staff at Northside where the surgery took place were also all superb and top-notch.
I realize that realistically, this first step may be impossible for many to incorporate. Scheduling a major surgery out of town, and not to mention even paying for it, can be a big deal. I do have to let you know, I was worried about all of these things. They worked with me and I know God orchestrated it all as well. So if you have the slightest sense that this might help you, I encourage you to check out their website and at least reach out for a consult.
Without getting this surgery, I would not be able to say I have 'conquered' endometriosis pain. In fact, I would still have a lot of that gunk in my body, because mainstream surgeries just can't get to all those nooks and crannies. This procedure was a pivotal point in my recovery. I am so thankful for my husband and mom and how they went with me to help me out.
If you do get the surgery, you're going to need lots of support! It is manageable though. It took about 3 weeks for me to feel well enough to get out of the house, and it took several weeks plus some physical therapy to feel 100% again. And it took about 3 months for me to notice a significant difference with the pain, but according to them, that is typical. It was such a relief to start having life without pain!
The challenging part of my surgery was that they also found I have adenomyosis. From the way I understand it, it's when the endometrial tissue is on the inside of the uterus, causing pain from within. The treatment for this was a presacral neurectomy, which was helpful for a few months, but eventually I started to feel pain again. It was less pain than before, but enough that was still problematic. I knew since my pain was reduced by so much that maybe I could look into some alternatives to maange the pain I was having from adenomyosis (which is the same pain as endo pain, it's just more centrally located.)
That leads to my second point. I started doing some research on what might help alleviate the rest of that pain I was feeling from the adenomyosis. I found that magnesium lactate (it has to be lactate, not the other kind) is great for helping manage cramps. I also found that Solgar gentle iron is also super helpful with reducing pain in my experience. With some tweaking, I have learned that I have to take start taking it about 10 days before my cycle starts. I can tell a huge difference when I take them! One month I forgot, and I vowed I would never forget again because the difference was very noticeable.
#3 All-Natural Progesterone Cream
Many women are finding that natural progesterone can help lighten pain levels and help with these symptoms. There are countless different varieties and brands out there. The brand that I tried and is working marvelously for me is Beeyoutiful. I use it on days 12-28. At first I was skeptical, because I've tried variations of these creams in the past and it did not work. However, this brand has worked WONDERS for me. I basically have little to no cramps since I've had the surgery, incorporated this cream, and used the supplements listed above.
#4 Saying Goodbye to Sugar & Processed Foods
One pivotal step I have taken is minimizing the amount of sugar and even artificial sweetners that I eat and drink. It was hard at first, but I have noticed that not only have I lost weight, but I also don't feel so sluggish and bloated with my cycle. It just makes sense that eating healthier would yield better health overall. And it does!
#5 Saying Goodbye to Parabens and Other Chemicals
Did you know that many of the usual brands of lotions and other health and beauty products that we use contain chemicals that directly mess with our hormones? I have noticed that since I've switched to using all-natural lotions etc., like this one I have been experiencing a lot less pain and symptoms overall. Better yet, make your own products with all natural cocoa butter or shea butter and essential oils.
#6 And of course....Prayer!
I can't stress this enough. God had His hand on me all through the years, and I really learned more of His might and His love as He carried me through all the pain. And He orchestrated every part of getting the surgery, because when I first read about it, it did not even seem like a possibility. Since then, He has brought healing. Pray in the midst of the pain, pray for healing, pray He would draw you closer as you go through every step of looking to recover and manage the pain.
I am saying a prayer as well that if you are struggling with this disease, you would be encouraged through this story, and that these same steps I have taken would be helpful for you too! It's time for the suffering to come to an end and get your life back.
I am beyond thankful for God directing my steps to find Center for Endometriosis Care, and also for finding supplements and lifestyle changes that help. I have a renewed and restored quality of life now, and it is such a blessing.
I would imagine that even if you can't realistically get excision surgery, you could still incorporate some of these other tips and at least see some relief.
If any of this resonates with you or someone you know, please share in the comments below, and also feel free to reach out to me through social media or email (go to the about me page) if you have questions about any of my experiences. I would be honored to hear about your story and provide some encouragement, it would mean so much if I could know I helped someone else!
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Hi, I'm Tessa! I suppose I could sum myself up by confessing I am a crazy cat lady, amateur sewist, nature lover, bookworm, fabric fanatic, mental health advocate, craft enthusiast, tea addict, and an 'old soul.' Jesus is my all in all, and I'm so thankful that His love NEVER fails.