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Fitness

Endometriosis

Kim Goodwin was just 11 when her nightmare started. It began with the periods from hell - severe cramping and bleeding keeping her in bed for days every month and needing to use up to 60 sanitary pads a day. "I regularly missed school and later took sickies from work," says Kim, now 36. "My life revolved around the pain." Gynaecologists and GPs couldn't find a physical cause, so they put the problem down to her psyche. Even her parents believed the doctors. "I was prescribed anti-depressants and told to stop whingeing. No-one was taking me seriously," Kim says. For years she lived with the pain, until her sister's engagement party. "I'll never forget it," she says. "Surrounded by guests, I suddenly had such a flood of bleeding I almost passed out." At 29 she begged her doctor to remove her uterus. "As much as I wanted kids, I was willing to make this sacrifice. I believed it was the only option left." When she woke after the operation, the surgeon told her she had endometriosis, a chronic uterine disease. Kim was devastated: "I had never heard of endo. Had I known about it, my life could have been completely different. I wouldn't have had the radical operation. At least, I would have tried other treatments first." Determined to help others with endo, Kim is president of the Endometriosis Association of Queensland and hopes to prevent others suffering her fate. "If period pain stops you from leading a normal life, have it investigated. You're the best person to know how severe it is. Don't ignore it," she says. Do you have endo? "Up to 10 percent of women suffer from endometriosis," says Dr Geoffrey Reid, co-founder of the Endometriosis Care Centre of Australia (ECCA). It is a chronic condition where the lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries, bowel or bladder. The misplaced tissue goes through the same monthly cycle as normal tissue, but the blood stays inside the pelvis, causing inflammation, cysts and sometimes sticky masses that can glue organs together. Common symptoms According to Dr Reid, endo often goes undiagnosed. Symptoms include severe period pain, heavy bleeding or premenstrual spotting, pain with intercourse, lower-back or thigh pain and bladder or bowel pain during your period. Is there treatment? Surgery is the most effective treatment. Other options are hormonal drugs and natural therapies such as herbs, special diet, meditation and yoga.
  • For more information, visit the Endometriosis Care Centre of Australia (ECCA): www.ecca.com.au
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