How to Live With Endometriosis At Uni: Endometriosis Awareness Month
Every year in March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, which raises awareness about the medical condition that affects the reproductive system of women.
It occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. This tissue can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other organs in the pelvic area.
There are a variety of symptoms that those with endometriosis can experience which can vary from person to person, including painful menstrual periods, chronic pelvic pain, irregular bleeding and infertility to name a few.
The aim of observing this event is to spread awareness and promote early detection, diagnosis, and treatment in women. After all, this condition affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age within the UK.
Within this post we’ll be discussing the endometriosis symptoms to look out for and tips for young women who are living with the medical condition whilst at university.
Know The Symptoms
Endometriosis remains undiagnosed in so many young women due to the fact it is mistaken for other conditions or because some women do not experience any symptoms at all.
Research suggests that 62% of women between the age of 16-24 don’t know what endometriosis is.
So, this important month helps to raise awareness of the condition and promote early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.
Although symptoms vary from woman to woman, it’s worth knowing the signs to look out for.
Here are a few of the noticeable signs of endometriosis listed by the NHS:
- pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) which is worse during your period.
- period pain which prevents you doing daily activities.
- feeling sick, constipated, or diarrhoea during your period.
- Suffer from heavy periods, may use lots of pads or tampons, or you may bleed through to your clothes.
To find out more about endometriosis symptoms, treatments and complications head to the NHS website.
Make sure to speak with your GP if you think you may have the medical condition.
Tips For Living With Endometriosis At Uni
Endometriosis is a painful long-term condition which can have a big impact on the quality of life of those who suffer with it, due to chronic pain impacting their ability to carry out daily activities.
The medical condition can greatly impact a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
For young women studying at university, it can no doubt affect their student experience and academic performance.
Research suggests that those who suffer with endometriosis are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, so it’s vital we spread awareness on this important issue.
Every woman’s experience with this disease is complex and unique, but there are some tips for you to take on board for managing endometriosis whilst at university.
1. Speak To Your GP
First and foremost, if you suffer from endometriosis the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your GP.
You should discuss treatment options if you have not done so already, and if you notice your symptoms have got worse, you should also contact your doctor.
You may be given GP-approved painkillers for helping to ease the pain associated with the condition such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Other possible treatment options include hormone medicines and contraceptives, and in some cases women undergo surgery as a method of treatment to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue.
It’s best to discuss with your primary health care provider to find out what treatment plan is best for you, as they can outline the risks and benefits of each.
2. Manage Your Pain
Aside from taking GP-approved painkillers, there are a variety of different ways you can manage your pain from your student flat.
A method of pain relief which some women who suffer with endometriosis use is a hot water bottle, or heat pads on the lower abdomen.
These can also be useful if you suffer from painful periods.
Doing this can help to relax cramping pelvic muscles, reduce pain and increase relaxation.
Taking a hot bath is also a good way to help relieve some of your pain and relax your entire body so, run yourself a nice bubble bath to make yourself feel better overall!
We know that exercising when you’re in severe pain is probably the last thing you want to do, but getting your body moving is a good way to make yourself feel better both physically and mentally.
Whether you go for a walk, do some stretches, or practice breathing exercises, these can all help reduce your endometriosis pain.
3. Reach Out For Support
Living with endometriosis as a young woman is not easy due to the severe impacts upon your physical and mental well-being.
Make sure to speak to those within your life and surround yourself with a positive support network if you suffer with the medical condition.
Your friends and family may not relate to your experiences but they can offer a shoulder of support and be there when you need them.
We’d also suggest speaking to your university if the medical condition stops you from doing day-to-day tasks like attending lectures and submitting deadlines.
They will be able to provide support and you may be able to apply for extenuating circumstances.
After all, endometriosis can be emotionally and physically exhausting, so it’s important not to suffer in silence and get help with your studies and well-being whilst at university.
4. Make Self Care A Priority
It can be tough to live with endometriosis, this painful medical condition disrupts your daily life and can stop you from doing regular activities which other people may take for granted so, ensure that you make self care a priority.
No matter what works for you whether it’s relaxing and watching your favourite films on the couch, finding time to soak in the bath with bubbles and some candles or meditating and practising mindfulness techniques, these things can help to improve your overall well-being so make sure to find the time.
We’d also suggest you find ways to get a good night’s sleep, although this may be hard due to hormonal changes being linked with sleep disruption as well as the pain associated with the condition, getting enough sleep can reduce your stress levels.
Experiencing endometriosis can take a toll on your mental health as well as your physical health so it’s important to practise self-care activities!
5. Focus On Your Diet
Our next tip for how to live with endometriosis at uni is to focus on your diet and lifestyle.
Research suggests that those with the condition can benefit from eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet full of anti-inflammatory foods.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help decrease menstrual pain so it may be beneficial to eat the likes of fish, eggs, and nuts. Eating a wholesome, plant-based diet may also reduce flare-ups associated with the disease.
That being said, try your best to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as making sure to drink plenty of water as these are thought to be beneficial.
Although, one diet may work for one person and not for another so it’s important to remember this and try out different things to suit you and your lifestyle.
6. Keep Track Of Symptoms
If you’re living with endometriosis, it may be helpful to keep track of your symptoms whether it’s through writing in a journal, downloading a symptom tracker app or with an endometriosis symptom diary.
This is a good way to monitor your health, improve your wellbeing as well as to help identify any triggers that may worsen your pain.
It’s important to be as consistent as you can be with the symptoms you’re experiencing as this can help with diagnosis and treatment plans when speaking with your doctor.
7. Connect With Others
Connecting with other young women who also have endometriosis is a great way to receive a sense of community and support.
You could join a support group, speak to women on social media or organise a group at your university for people to come together.
Being around people who are in the same boat as you and understand what you’re going through can help improve your mental well-being, you can offer support and advice to one another as well as tips on how to cope.
Chronic illnesses like endometriosis are complex and present themselves differently from person to person but hopefully these tips have been useful to you.
Approximately 176 million women in the world suffer with this disease, so spread the word about Endometriosis Awareness Month and educate yourself on the signs and symptoms.
Remember, we are not professionals so make sure to speak to a professional such as your GP if you think you could have endometriosis.
March is also Brain Tumour Awareness Month, take a read of our blog on Wear A Hat Day 2023.