March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and we have asked Vicky Chapman to write an introduction for us about the condition and her experience of living with it. Vicky is an active campaigner for endometriosis awareness and runs the Dundee Endometriosis Support Group, which also includes Perth and Kinross and the surrounding areas. By raising awareness of this condition we can #EndoTheStigma and encourage others to be more open about their menstrual wellbeing. You can find more info and support for living with Endometriosis at Endometriosis UK.
Endometriosis is the name given to the condition where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
Symptoms can include painful, heavy or irregular periods, pelvic pain, pain during or after intercourse, bowel or bladder problems, difficulty getting pregnant and fatigue.
I was diagnosed with the condition in 2017 aged 29 having started my periods aged 11. Looking back, there were always signs since I started my periods – heavy periods, severe cramps requiring time off school and work, fatigue, suspected appendicitis – but I had never heard of the condition until a few months before my confirmed diagnosis (via surgery). I have been on a number of treatments since including the combined and mini pills along with a treatment, which put me into chemical menopause aged 29 #NotTooYoungForMenopause.
After being told of my suspected diagnosis, I used the Endometriosis UK website to learn about the condition along with the Health Unlocked forum to speak to others going through similar. I started attending the closest group to me in Fife in 2018 where I was made to feel very welcome and included. I love that you don’t have to justify yourself at meetings, you can simply just be. It was after attending this and with the encouragement of Fife’s Support Group Leader that I set up Endometriosis UK Dundee Support Group in 2019.
Whilst the group contains Dundee in its name, it covers the areas of South Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perth as well as Dundee itself.
Meetings are currently held online on a monthly basis and cover topics such as general support, bring your own support network along with fertility, nutrition and complementary therapies whereby guest speakers join to speak to the group.
If you’d like to find out more including upcoming events, you can request to join the closed Facebook group, follow @EndoDundee on Twitter and Instagram or via the group page on Endometriosis UK. You can also email me at DundeeGroup@endometriosis-uk.org.
As part of Dundee Women’s Festival and to help mark International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March 2021, Endometriosis UK Dundee Support Group are joining up with Menopause Café for an online session to talk all things menopause and all things Endometriosis from the comfort of your own home. Attendance is free and you can sign up to take part here.
This year, more than ever, we want to ensure the voices of those affected by endometriosis are not forgotten. We want to #EndoTheStigma by encouraging everyone to be more open about endometriosis – to talk, acknowledge and understand. We are calling on the public, healthcare practitioners, policymakers, politicians, workplaces and our community to come together to raise public awareness of endometriosis, its symptoms and the impact it has on people’s lives. Anyone can get involved by taking on a 1 in 10 fundraising challenge to #EndoTheStigma.