I felt anger rising in my chest as my husband told me what my doctor had relayed to him regarding my endometriosis. Half conscious, yet still half sedated, I struggled to hear the positive in the message he was delivering. The doctor said I still had one good ovary and one clear fallopian tube. That meant 50% of my lady parts were working, which meant I might be able to have a baby one day.
“That's good news, right?” he asked.
His voice sounded a million miles away. All I could focus on was the pit of anger burning in my soul. I was angry. I was mad at my conventional OBGYN, whom I had trusted with my hormonal health for years.
I remember in High School crawling on my hands and knees to the bathroom because my cramps were unbearable. My periods were brutally painful, unrelenting, and a serious soul sucker. Every month, I would famously say, “I can't wait to have a baby so that I can remove all my lady parts.” That's how bad my periods were, and yet, no one ever told me they weren't supposed to be that bad.
I remember being on all fours in a dark prison office, hiding out of sight of others, dry heaving into an office wastebasket while tears rolled down my face. Again, totally normal, right?!? Then there were the months where I would bend over in pain during ovulation, feeling as if my ovary was going to burst out of my body. Again, totally normal.
It all reached a boiling point in February 2020. I headed off to my conventional medicine doctor to discuss my hormonal concerns. I was 34 years old, battling the worst case of cystic acne ever. Knowing what I know about mental health symptoms, I was fully aware that my skin was sending me a serious message of urgency.
After what felt like a five-minute meeting with my doctor, I was prescribed birth control (aka a band-aid) and a template response that my period pains were a normal response to having a vagina (Okay, he didn't say it exactly like that, but he might as well have).
Can you see why I was angry???
Overwhelmed with frustration, I took my hormonal health into my own hands. I bought the books, I did the research, and I began making the changes. Desperate to heal my skin holistically, I sought help from a functional medicine doctor.
After spending over an hour with my doctor, I FINALLY felt seen and heard. She ordered an ultrasound, and within a few weeks, I learned that two golf-ball-sized cysts had made themselves cozy on my ovaries.
My gut feeling was right. There was something wrong. My functional medicine doctor told me I had what looked like endometriosis. The initial shock is a story all its own, but the point is I was right. After years of being dismissed by my doctor (a doctor trained in women's hormonal health), there was something wrong after all.
I WAS ANGRY
Fast forward to the car ride home from the hospital. Intense anger overcame me. I was mad at my conventional doctor. I went to him in faith he would “do no harm,” and here I found myself in a car, drugged, and listening to my husband tell me one ovary is basically burnt toast. I was fuming mad that I went to a gynecologist, trained in the very problem I was presenting, and he dismissed me. He normalized period pain, offered me a band-aid, and sent me on my way.
I was angry that I was diagnosed with stage 2 endometriosis. I was mad that my endometriosis was worse than my doctor had initially imagined. I was mad that the cysts turned out to be larger than golf balls. I felt overwhelming anger that I was running off one ovary as a result.
I was angry that people put so much faith in doctors because they have specific letters behind their names. I was angry that at the age of 35, right when I finally decided I wanted a baby, I was informed the endometriosis had been there for years.
I was angry at society for not doing better for women's hormonal health. Women lack an understanding of their female parts and the language to describe their functions and purposes. Cultural conditioning feeds women a false narrative that periods are supposed to suck. Guess what? Your period is not supposed to debilitate you.
However, underneath all that anger, I was sad.
PRIORITIZE YOUR HORMONAL HEALTH
I can't help but wonder what would've happened if I settled for the normalization of painful periods and filled that prescription for birth control. What would have happened if I band-aided my symptoms and allowed the fire to rage inside me. Would I have two burnt ovaries? Would I have ruined my chances of conceiving?
Birth control is being given to young girls and women for symptom management at alarming rates. A reduction in symptoms doesn't mean a fire isn't still raging inside. You merely took out the smoke detector when you popped that pill.
Please make your hormonal health a top priority. Don't be me – a 35-year-old who decided she was ready to have a baby and discovered it doesn't always work out that easy. Stop ignoring the symptoms and settling for the old age notion that periods are supposed to be painful. News flash, they're not supposed to be.
Don't be the girl fighting back the tears of anger as her husband tells her the endometriosis ruined one ovary, but she still has one functioning ovary. Be the girl who made her hormonal health a top priority, and as a result, has two healthy girls going to work for her each day.
To learn more about hormonal health, endometriosis, and fertility, be sure to check out these past episodes on The Courageously.u Podcast: