In 2011 I was diagnosed with severe level 4 Endometriosis after a laparoscopy which took three hours. The operating surgeon told me that the endometriosis had been there since puberty and that my only recourse was hysterectomy. The surgery came after many years of heavy and painful periods - during my teenage years and my twenties. Dismissed by GP's as being a hypochondriac and told that this was "just part of being a woman", I turned away from conventional medicine and started practising yoga. The effect was immediate. I had been using marijuana and alcohol as a way of escaping controlling pain and discomfort - and I gave them up. The pain receded with each period.
My thirties were a completely different story. At 32 I fell pregnant with my first child, a boy - a complete surprise - as I had thought (with all my period issues) I would be incapable of conceiving and carrying. At 35 I gave birth to my second child, a girl, another miracle. I conceived both children without drugs or any medical intervention whatsoever.
When my son was 6 months old, I commenced a Yoga teacher training course, and knew I had found my path. The course took 2 years and I was so hooked I then embarked on becoming a Yoga Therapist, another 3 years of study. I specialised in fertility (unsurprisingly); pregnancy and postnatal yoga.
However, a year after the birth of my second child I fell seriously ill. I lost 20kgs over 2 years. I had nausea, diarrhoea, lower abdominal cramping, pain with ovulation and sex. No-one could find an explanation. A gastroenterologist I was referred to advised me to take up drinking again and relax! It was all put down to anxiety. Sound familiar? But one man took me seriously. A Gynaecologist and Laparoscopic expert, he was convinced it was endometriosis. I actually bet him it wasn't, having had a clear pelvic ultrasound a year before. I lost that bet. The endo was on my bowel, pouch of Douglas, bladder, right ureter and cervix. The adhesions created by it were everywhere - including the bladder and bowel. Within two weeks of the surgery I had put on 3 kgs - a small miracle.
I was so relieved by this accurate diagnosis I began to research endometriosis and yoga techniques. I wrote a mini thesis on the subject during my Yoga Therapy studies. I used myself as a test case. Obviously I had been able to fall pregnant with no issue and I had effectively reduced my pain with yoga until after the birth of my baby girl. However, my body's weakened state after two children and the approach of peri-menopause and erratic oestrogen had meant that once again the endo was running my life. So post-surgery I began to explore the yogic techniques of relaxation and meditation. I found that I could reduce my ovulation pain and bring my period pain back to a bare minimum. I researched heavily the effect of proven relaxation techniques on the mind and the nervous and endocrine system and work out how to break the vicious cycle.
I have now regained 10 of the 20kgs I lost, and I feel and look healthy and almost pain free. I still have my bad days - heavy periods, irritability, low iron - yoga is not a "cure" for endo, or any disease - we still don't have one of those. A second laparoscopy in 2013, to diagnose Adenomyosis - revealed there is still endo in my body. But I live a full and active life, run my own business teaching yoga - which is very physical; keep up with two very lively children - now 11 and 7. I maintain my life and wellbeing with a practise that, once learnt, costs nothing. I take NO medications or supplements - medical or herbal. I see doctors rarely – yay! Best of all, I have all my organs intact, despite my surgeon's predictions.
So that is my story, a tiny drop in a sea of endometriosis stories worldwide. But with a slight difference - no drugs, no organs removed and two children. Thanks so much for letting me share.