Last updated: 1/5/2020
Painful period is a loving man’s take on his help with wife’s endometriosis.
The main objective of this article is to try and understand the point of view of the loved ones who support women in the battle with endometriosis.
At the same time, I want to raise awareness about the illness, which is very common but it is not recognizable by millions of people around the world.
It is a chronic condition that affects 1 in every 10 women. It is a painful disorder, in which tissue similar to the one that normally lines the inside of your uterus, grows outside it.
Endometriosis commonly involves ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.
The aim of this post is to help all the men understand what their women are going through and how to support them during their struggles because there is not much information for those who support them.
Aside from providing valuable information, I want to show my fellow supporters where to turn to for knowledge and advice.
I wrote already an article about endometriosis and my point of view on it as a husband, but today’s article is dedicated to all those who support their loved ones with this terrible disease.
This page has everything you need to know, to prepare you for what’s ahead in terms of treatment and managing the condition of your partner. Finally feeling like you’re not the only one supporting your loved one in silence.
It will allow you to understand the prognosis and begin to move forward with your life again, fully equipped with the correct information.
It is going to help you with a better understanding of what your partner goes through every single day. I dedicate this article to all my “endo-brothers” out there, who struggle with the support of their women. Men, this is for you!
However, if you are the one who suffers from endometriosis, I’d strongly recommend your man to read this article.
Besides, reading this yourself, you will get to know how your man feels about it, how it can affect him, and how to adjust the little things, so endometriosis doesn’t ruin your relationship.
Why it affected my wife?
Why it affects other millions of women around the world? No one can answer that question. We don’t know, nobody knows the cause.
There are countless theories but it ends there. The cause of endometriosis is unknown.
A common theory is that the endometrial tissue is deposited in unusual locations during the female menstrual cycle. It’s an abnormal growth of cells. It is most commonly found on other organs of the pelvis but the exact cause of endometriosis has not been identified.
The hardest part to deal with is that most women with endometriosis have no visible symptoms in the first stage, which can last from months to years and which would help to detect the illness early on before it develops.
This is why on average, it takes 7 to 9 years to diagnose it. When women do experience signs and symptoms of endometriosis, it is usually very late and quite often, as it was the case for my wife, women are diagnosed with endometriosis stage 3 or 4.
It can be very difficult to diagnose this illness because the symptoms can vary considerably and many conditions can cause similar symptoms to those in endometriosis. It can be extremely frustrating and difficult to diagnose something, that you have no idea exist.
This chronic condition can be suspected based on the woman’s pattern of symptoms and sometimes during a physical examination, but the definite diagnosis can be only confirmed by surgery, laparoscopy.
Endometriosis can be a difficult condition to deal with, both physically and emotionally.
It will try to dictate your partner’s life and in a result of that, yours. I’m here to tell you, however difficult living with someone who is affected by the illness may be, you must never give up on her!
You must remember, that you are not the one who’s in pain, she is! You are healthy, you have the privilege of feeling ok and unlike your partner, you have the freedom of doing anything you want in your life.
It might sound harsh but you need to man up and stand up to the task of being her protector, advocate, a shoulder to cry on, her chef, her nurse if need be, the boyfriend, the husband, or partner she deserves.
Her suffering is also your story because it will influence your choices and actions in life, but it will make you a better man. When it comes to the relationship between the two of you, this whole experience is going to make it even stronger.
My wife is a worry head. She conquered anxiety and depression, all that, coming off antidepressants she’s been on for 18 years. My wife survived her suicidal attempts and today she battles one of the most common chronic illnesses, that many people ironically never heard of.
But even though endometriosis is trying to shape our lives, she fights the best way she can, and we decided not to let it influence our marriage.
I can tell you right now, without even knowing your partner, she is mentally and physically the strongest woman you will ever meet, she’s the bravest woman you will ever know. Keep fighting for her and never let go. You won’t regret it, it will bring both of you closer than you have ever been.
But don’t neglect yourself and take care of your needs. You will step upon many obstacles along the way but don’t let it break you. If you take care of yourself first, it will allow you to take care of her.
I promise you, regardless of you giving yourself time in order to recharge your batteries, she won’t mind. Your girl will appreciate that you are there for her.
A bit more detail:
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, but for those suffering from this chronic condition, the awareness of the impact of this disease lasts a lifetime.
If you don’t suffer from endometriosis yourself, you may not know that it is a disease, where endometriotic tissue exists throughout the body, causing inflammation, adhesions, pain, organ dysfunction, and even infertility.
The scariest fact is that endometriosis can be found not only on the reproductive organs but on pelvic organs and structures, and even in organs outside the pelvis such as the liver, lungs, or brain.
As for February 2020, my wife had an operation 4 months ago to excise her endometriosis and despite it, but she is still suffering symptoms, albeit not as severe but she still suffers.
M feels pain during ovulation, before her period, and during her period. It is milder than before surgery but still there. She also still experiences digestive issues and muscle spasms in her pelvis and lower back, again not as bad as before, but the issues are still present.
My wife fears that her endometriosis will come back sooner rather than later, and this is really difficult for her.
After speaking to the specialist, who performed the surgery on her, my wife was reassured that she is still in her recovery period and should not necessarily fear, that the endometriosis is coming back, just because she feels pain. It could be due to the scars after the operation or simply muscular spasms.
But how do you know? No one knows…
According to statistics at present, the specialist said, 1 in 7 women will develop endometriosis within 2 years of the operation that she had (she had excision of the disease) and 6 out of 7 women will not get it back within 2 years, but it might return after a while. How long it will take is an individual thing.
You see gentlemen, endometriosis is an ongoing and chronic illness that affects the whole body, not only the reproductive system.
If your loved one gets pain all over her body in few months after her laparoscopy, but statistics say that endometriosis is less likely to return in such a short period of time, it doesn’t mean she imagines things. Her pain is real!
You have to believe and support her the best way you can, because half of the time, before the very first diagnosis, her symptoms will most likely not be taken seriously by the physician. At least this was the case in our experience.
You see, when studying, general doctors just learn the basics of endometriosis. Because of the fact that this disease is still widely misunderstood, and the symptoms may be misleading, a mixture of these issues make it more difficult for general doctors to recognize and therefore referral to a specialist may take years.
That is why it is important for the patient to be aware of the symptoms and ask for a referral if they suspect that they may have endometriosis. They can’t refuse if you keep pushing!
The problem with my wife’s case was that she wasn’t aware of the symptoms of the diseases herself, so she never mentioned the possibility of it to her doctor.
Admittedly, her doctor should have recognized the symptoms, because she had all of them, not just a few, but unfortunately, they failed her and told her she had perimenopausal symptoms and PMS because of her age and she was sent to a gastroenterologist about her digestive issues.
It was only when she started hemorrhaging blood that they got worried and she saw a general gynaecologist who removed some polyps from her womb and said that was the cause.
But the bleeding didn’t stop! M started to experience excruciating pain in her right side and she became very anaemic.
Finally, it was a gynaecologist from the PMS clinic that suggested another urgent ultrasound which showed an endometrioma (cyst associated with endometriosis) on her right ovary.
She was then sent to a specialist Endometriosis Clinic. She was actually quite lucky that she got diagnosed 5 years after symptoms started, some women wait much longer.
Endometriosis can also cause chronic fatigue, which no one seems to take seriously either. This is thought to be due to the immune system working overtime to eliminate the inflammation that the endometriotic lesions in the body are causing.
The hidden battle that occurs inside a woman’s body with this disease is not visible on the outside. This is why it is called an invisible illness.
Painful intercourse is another symptom. But we’ll get to that in a moment…
Constipation and/or diarrhea, acid reflux, bladder issues. It is in fact a serious condition that greatly impacts women physically and therefore emotionally.
My wife struggles with acid reflux and difficulty defecating and urinating. If women are experiencing these symptoms it can indicate the presence of endometriotic tissue on the rectovaginal area, bowel, bladder, or ureters.
Whenever your girl tells you that she experiences discomfort, pulling, pain, nerves twitching, or something else, listen to her carefully!
For those women who struggle with both endometriosis and infertility, there are physical and financial burdens to be expected and they can lead those trying to have a family to despair.
Luckily for my wife, I never craved a baby.
Of course, if we were blessed with a child I definitely wouldn’t mind it, but M felt less pressure on my part knowing, that it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.
Not every couple is the same and the majority of people want to have a child in their lifetime. After all, humans are supposed to reproduce and it’s in our instinct to do so in order for the human race to thrive.
That brings me to a very important issue that endometriosis undoubtedly has an impact on sex life.
“Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things…” – Salt-N-Pepa
Let’s talk about all the good things, that you might miss on from the stage close to the diagnosis up to recovery from the laparoscopy and excision surgery.
Yes, I miss that first stage where you don’t have a clue why she gets symptoms such as:
- • Really long or extremely heavy periods
- • Severe migraines
- • Severe lower back, pelvic, and sometimes leg pain during your period
- • Painful bowel movements
- • Allergies that get worse around your period
- • Bleeding between periods
- • Fatigue
- • Nausea
- • Diarrhea
- • Pain on intercourse
Pain on intercourse might be the biggest unknown to you both and can cause a lot of upset and frustration.
At first, as it was in my wife’s case, your partner may go to great lengths in order to please you and put up with the pain that it causes her.
The fear of losing you will be the driving force and her motivation to continue having intercourse with you. She’s going feel torn apart inside just for you.
Sounds cruel? It is!
For months, maybe years (I’ve lost count) I used to think that I was doing something wrong. Firstly, I thought I was too big for her. Truth to be told, mother nature blessed me with, ehm… you know.
I always blamed myself for giving my wife pain during intercourse and M always felt guilty for trying to skip it. We didn’t know why she was in so much pain. Today we both know the reason but it doesn’t make it any easier for her.
In my mind, sex is not the most important thing. Of course, it is a vital part of any relationship, but let’s face it guys, we find that special someone and we fall for someone who makes us feel special, not just for sex.
Besides, you can find pleasure in many other ways. Oral sex will always be on the top of the list for any guy and can be pleasurable for both of you.
She is going to fear that you might leave her and she will definitely blame herself for everything…
My wife told me many times, that I would be better off with someone else. In the period of 7 years of our marriage, she asked me to divorce her on two separate occasions.
Each time M explained to me that she wasn’t the woman she used to be and she definitely didn’t feel like one.
I could never bear the thought of leaving her. There’s more to life than penetrative sex. We both love dancing, traveling the world, and coffee. We are both artistic and have many passions.
The latest, and for me the best thing is blogging! I spend my free time on this new hobby of mine. Along with my wife, we share our knowledge about mental health problems and endometriosis. We found our purpose in life and that is to help millions of people, not only ourselves.
So, we are busy, very busy. That helps us both stay put and not strain away from the important stuff. To help others is a great gift.
My wife found her purpose in the darkest hour of her life, after going through multiple suicidal attempts and battling with a chronic condition that she may never be rid of.
To come out of the darkest place imaginable, where you want to end it all, time and time again, is truly remarkable. But she wouldn’t have made it if I wasn’t there beside her. This made me realize what I wanted to do and Worry Head was born…
I will never be able to experience the pain and suffering of endometriosis myself and at the time of my wife’s diagnosis in August 2019 I did not know how to deal with it, I didn’t know how to help until now. In a very short space of time, I learned that the biggest gift I can give is to be there for her.
But I lived through it, I felt it to some extent. Seeing your loved one go through so much pain, especially not knowing the reason why for so long, cannot be ignored.
My wife’s pain became my own. But I wasn’t there to sulk and worry, she needed help that I could provide. I’m here today and I’m happy I have never given up on M. As the title of my book says – “No amount of anxiety will push me away.”
This brutal, chronic illness and it’s unknown how to explain her symptoms, gave M a lot of anxiety.
Endometriosis periods come with worse pain and chronic pain gives women a lot of problems – it’s invisible and no one can see it.
The very fact that you cannot explain how you feel, or you’re simply fed up with endless repeating, that makes you feel stressed.
This was always the case for my wife, and that is the case for many women.
As her husband, I wanted to break this pattern, and so I decided to create The Mini Chronic Pain Bundle.
You don’t have to struggle with endless explanations of how terrible you feel!
Why should you?
All in the self-explanatory Chronic Pain Bundle is easy to fill in.
You can show it to your doctor, family, friends. All the people that never believed you, can be now proven wrong.
The Mini Chronic Pain Bundle includes:
- • Endometriosis Pain & Symptoms Tracker.
- • Chronic Pain Body Map.
Knowing how to be there for a loved one with this condition can be tricky, and often friends and family are at a loss when trying to support someone with endometriosis.
I listed below five tips how you can help:
1. Don’t give advice unless you are an endometriosis sufferer or supporter and have a piece of knowledge about the issue.
Sometimes when we want to help, we try and share what we believe. It’s human nature to try and help but if you never had anything to do with endometriosis or never had a loved one who suffers from it, it is unwise to try to give advice.
Yes, you feel sorry for those who are going through a hard time, but if you try to advise someone on a topic you don’t know enough about, you unintentionally end up hurting them.
A statement such as “my cousin had endometriosis and got pregnant and now she is better” is not advice.
First of all, for many endometriosis patients, getting pregnant can be incredibly difficult, so to hear such comments is not helpful.
Second of all, endometriosis patients are often in need of critical care, because this disease affects many organs. So again, haring that “my friend had a hysterectomy and it solved all of her issues” is not helpful.
To summarise it, neither pregnancy nor a hysterectomy is a cure or treatment for endometriosis, and sharing such myths can be only harmful to a woman.
On the side, while diet, exercise, essential oils, and even acupuncture can help with the inflammation caused by endo, insisting these treatments will be the “miracle cure” is not helpful at all.
2. Be flexible and understanding, even when it is hard to fathom what they may be going through.
The cause of endometriosis is still unknown, regardless of what people say and it’s definitely unpredictable.
One day your loved one may feel like she could finish a marathon, and the next day she may have to drag herself out just for a walk or to do the shopping. One evening she may feel able to go out to dinner eating, another evening she may feel to ill to eat.
This is the biggest frustration for my wife. She cannot plan anything. Nothing at all. The reason being is, she doesn’t know how she is going to feel tomorrow.
So gents and ladies-supporters, please be flexible and allow her to choose what to do. She struggles enough already and doesn’t need more pressure.
If you find the unreliability of your loved one frustrating, just imagine how it feels for them to wake up every day not being able to rely on their own body. You can do anything, she can’t. Don’t take it personally.
Sometimes those struggling with endometriosis make plans with the hope of making it, only to not feel up to it when the engagement arrives. And that is always the case for my wife. She feels like a burden and this depresses her. Don’t make your loved one feel bad for putting their health first.
Instead, offer to be flexible with your plans. Assure your her, that the friendship or love you share with her is unconditional.
3. Educated yourself about endometriosis and keep learning.
Another way to show your loved one that you care is to learn more about the impact of endometriosis. There are many valuable resources online that can help you understand more about what they are up against.
I listed them below, you can access them by clicking on each picture:
This book has changed my wife’s life! She struggled with her diagnosis and having nowhere to turn to for knowledge and advice. This book has everything you need to know to prepare you for what’s ahead in terms of symptoms, treatment, and managing your endometriosis. We truly cannot recommend it enough! This book is worth every single penny!
Out of the 100 million women – almost 11 million in the United States alone – who are on the pill, roughly 60 percent take it for non-contraceptive reasons like painful periods, endometriosis, PCOS, and acne. While the birth control pill is widely prescribed as a quick-fix solution to a variety of women’s health conditions, taking it can also result in other more serious and dangerous health consequences.
You can also help educate her family and friends. Stand up for your loved one if they get complaints about having to miss a social event. Fight for her.
4. How a person with endometriosis looks, does not indicate how they feel.
Endometriosis is often called an invisible disease. Those who suffer can appear perfectly healthy. This is why so many doctors miss key symptoms – they don’t listen to the patient carefully or ask them the right questions and then often conclude that they are probably anxious and or stressed.
Sometimes a woman may be unaware herself that her symptoms point to endometriosis, or may even be embarrassed to talk about some of them, so if her doctor doesn’t ask the right questions then this will further delay investigation and diagnosis of the disease.
Remember that women suffering endometriosis are often in a state of mental crisis because of their symptoms in the first place!
Your loved one may be feeling generally unwell almost every day. Like in the case of my wife and her everyday digestive problems and fatigue due to anaemia.
Be thoughtful of these struggles and try and be gentle with the person who may be battling these illnesses.
Endometriosis can be very isolating for those struggling, but family and friends who show their love and care can make a world of difference to those in pain.
5. Optimism can be counter-productive.
Yep, that’s a big one for me! I’m an optimist who sees a solution to every problem and I believe that people see problems in every solution. Well, it doesn’t always help, my optimistic approach can be counter-productive.
My attitude towards life is very positive, but it doesn’t always help my wife when I am over-optimistic about what she can physically achieve for example.
Statements such as “after surgery, you will be able to dance again, do competitions again, eat what you want again, go out again and change your job” did not work very well, because my expectations were too high and made her feel like she had to reach them all at once!
The reality is that recovery from excision surgery can be very slow, depending on how advanced the disease is and how healthy you were before surgery, etc.
It is a very individual thing. Also, the reality is that a lot of the symptoms, such as digestive issues and pelvic pain don’t disappear after surgery.
My wife still has to stick to eating certain foods to avoid upsetting her stomach and although she returned to dancing it was and still is very painful at times for her, so she is awaiting pelvic physio to help with this.
She still feels extreme fatigue (due to iron deficiency anaemia) and has a lot of pain and all over body aches when she has her period.
She is back at work, but in no state to start looking for a new one. She lives from day to day taking small steps forward and sometimes steps backward. Endometriosis is life-changing and my wife has found that although it is frustrating for her, she has to pace herself.
Therefore the best approach is to be realistic and to look at things the way they are at present and help her do the best she can.
If you both set realistic goals for the future, she will find it easier and less stressful, because she will not fall into a trap of feeling “Oh no, another disappointment, I thought I would be able to do more, I feel like a failure, etc.”
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Get to know us both!
After years of trial and error, professional help, and some brutal honesty, we have found a way to keep our marriage healthy.
Despite chronic illness, pain, and mental health struggles, which made our relationship extremely challenging, we found a way of making things work.
But still, we fell flat on our faces, and from the verge of losing my wife, to a joyful & loving marriage, we found a way of making things work!
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