HEALTH: Don’t suffer painful periods in silence

April 2nd, 2022 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

Most women with endometriosis suffer debilitating pain, particularly around the time of menstruation. Margaret missed work and once ended up in A&E.

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Endometriosis is a condition that impacts one in 10 Irish women. A West Cork woman who lives with it, says  there’s no need to suffer in silence, help is available.

A WEST Cork woman is urging any woman who is living with painful periods, not to suffer in silence. 

Speaking during Endometriosis Awareness Month, Margaret from Castletownbere said her quality of life was impacted by heavy and very painful periods from her early 20s. 

‘They were so bad I’d actually have been getting sick from the pain. There was even one occasion that I ended up in A&E it was so bad,’ recalls Margaret. ‘And what made it worse is that I thought that it was normal.’

She was diagnosed with endometriosis in her mid 20s.

Endometriosis is a common chronic inflammatory condition that affects approximately 10% of all women. It occurs when tissue, similar to the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, this is called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. Hence the name, endometriosis. The most common places for endometriosis to occur are the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the bowel, and the areas in front, to the back, and the sides of the uterus. It can also be found on the bladder and, on rarer occasions, it can be found outside the pelvis; in areas such as the lungs, skin, brain and diaphragm. Problems arise because this tissue is hormone sensitive, which means it responds to female hormones by thickening, breaking down and bleeding with each menstrual cycle. This leads to the formation of adhesions, essentially gluing areas of the internal organs together, as well as, in some instances, the formation of blood-filled cysts on the ovaries. The result is that most women with endometriosis suffer debilitating pain, particularly around the time of menstruation 

After her diagnosis Margaret also had surgery to get cysts removed, but she still dreaded her monthly period. 

‘I missed days in work. I used to play a lot of sport, and that was impacted too. I’d literally dread every month,’ she said. 

When she was 27, her GP put her on the oral contraceptive pill, which brought her incredible relief. 

‘It was like a dream come true,’ said Margaret. ‘My symptoms eased and my period was a completely different experience. I was able to get on with life.’

However after a decade on the pill she wondered if she had alternatives. A visit to Dr Fiona Barry, a Ballincollig-based acupuncturist, revealed a whole other world to her. ‘Her treatments have given me huge relief and even though I was nervous, I’ve come off the pill. I couldn’t recommend her enough. I just wish I’d know about accupuncture when I was in my 20s.’ 

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