South West residents share their experience for Endometriosis Awareness Week

'Endo Warrior': Collie-resident Hannah Bean endured nine years of hospitalisations before she was diagnosed. Picture: supplied

'Endo Warrior': Collie-resident Hannah Bean endured nine years of hospitalisations before she was diagnosed. Picture: supplied

IMAGINE waking up every morning to sharp, jolting pains through your uterus, having to walk hunched over from cramps, and bleeding right through your clothes during your menstrual cycle.

Imagine then presenting to the emergency department, only to be labeled as having a 'factitious disorder' and only prescribed Panadol.

These are the experiences and more, of women who suffer from endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a chronic menstrual health disorder in which tissue similar to what lines the inside of the uterus, is found on other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvis.

Due to the a large range of symptoms such as pain, cysts, heavy periods and even infertility leading to hysterotomy, and diagnosis possible only by laparoscopic surgery, endometriosis can take years to be diagnosed.

As part of Endometriosis Awareness Week from March 3 to 9, women throughout the South West shared their experiences with 'endo' in order to erase the stigma associated with the disorder as 'nothing more than period pain' and to help younger women find help.

South West residents Hannah Bean, Monique and Melanie Hooley shared their experiences and fears.

Ms Bean told the Mail she was forced to drop out of high school nine years ago due to intense pain she thought to be related to her period.

Not 'just period pain': Endometriosis can be commonly misdiagnosed as pelvic pain or appendicitis, with some women waiting years to be properly diagnosed and treated. Picture: supplied

Not 'just period pain': Endometriosis can be commonly misdiagnosed as pelvic pain or appendicitis, with some women waiting years to be properly diagnosed and treated. Picture: supplied

"I just couldn't go to school because I was in so much pain and would bleed through my clothing," Ms Bean said.

"After having the Mirena IUD put in and fail and multiple trips to the emergency department, doctors still couldn't find anything physically wrong with me, so I was labelled as having a factitious disorder who required a mental health assessment.

"It wasn't until an emergency treating psychologist in hospital said I should try a gynecologist, that I actually started to get somewhere."

After her first laparoscopic surgery, a type of keyhole surgery, Ms Bean was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis, but the pain continued some nine months on, leading to a cyst rupturing on her ovary.

Although having been officially diagnosed, Ms Bean said it was common for doctors to incorrectly list appendicitis as a cause of the pain, something that Monique and Ms Hooley were also told.

'Endo warrior': Bunbury-resident Monique was told by doctors her pain was just from her period and was often only given panadol. Picture: supplied

'Endo warrior': Bunbury-resident Monique was told by doctors her pain was just from her period and was often only given panadol. Picture: supplied

Monique told the Mail that although she had had laparoscopic surgery and was diagnosed with endometriosis, she still had received "so much stigma" surrounding the disorder as being labelled as "just a bad period".

"It's so important for people who are willing, to share their voices and their experiences," she said.

"And that's why Endometriosis Awareness Week is so important - if 15-year-old me had thought to reach out to other people and ask more questions, then I wonder how my journey would have been different.

"There's also stigma around surgery being a cure - there is no cure. I'm not better after having cysts removed, they could grow back, I'm not 'all better now'."

For women experiencing endometriosis in Western Australia, non-profit group Endometriosis WA is available for education and support for those affected by the disorder.

The organisation's vision is to provide people affected by endometriosis with access to the best quality information, support and understanding.

Laparoscopic surgery, a type of keyhole surgery, is commonly performed to diagnose endometriosis and remove cysts. Picture: supplied

Laparoscopic surgery, a type of keyhole surgery, is commonly performed to diagnose endometriosis and remove cysts. Picture: supplied

On a national level, the Australian Government released a $22.50 million 'National Action Plan for Endometriosis' in 2018.

Today, some women suffering from endometriosis have turned to social media to share their experiences and offer their support, with Monique starting an Instagram @withendo_.

Ms Bean said in addition to awareness, there needed to be "a lot more" compassion to those with endometriosis.

Ms Bean shared images of cysts that were found in her uterus and ovaries during an operation where doctors planned to remove her appendix. Pictures: supplied

Ms Bean shared images of cysts that were found in her uterus and ovaries during an operation where doctors planned to remove her appendix. Pictures: supplied

"I was told for nine years that all my pain was just in my head - so to all the girls out there, stand up for yourself.

"If your periods are stopping you from going to work, from doing your everyday thing, go and see a gynecologist.

"Endo taught me that I needed to stand up on my own two feet and tell people that it's real."

Do you experience, or suspect you're experiencing endometriosis?

Go to https://www.endometriosiswa.org.au/ or visit Endometriosis Western Australia Warriors on Facebook.

.