Author bravely pens endometriosis struggle in memoir

Author Nadine Dirks explores tough journey with endometriosis condition.

Author Nadine Dirks explores tough journey with endometriosis condition.

Published Mar 19, 2024


Cape Town - Following gruelling struggle, a Cape Town writer and activist has written a book to shed light on the challenges faced in obtaining a diagnosis for endometriosis.

It also aims to educate the public on signs to look out for, for the often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed condition.

Nadine Dirks, 27, is the author of the memoir Hot Water, which delves into her experience living with endometriosis, with the book written as a means to create awareness around the condition.

Endometriosis Awareness Month is also commemorated annually in March.

For Dirks, it took seven years to get a correct diagnosis.

“My diagnosis journey has been quite difficult because for several years no one knew what was wrong with me and there were hostile healthcare providers that made it hard to get the assistance I needed.

“I was met with loads of biases and prejudices, including racism from doctors who assumed I was lying about the cause of my symptoms,” Dirks said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

This can cause severe pain as it results in inflammation and scar tissue forming in the pelvis and elsewhere in the body, however the latter is rare.

“They readily made assumptions about me just by looking at me.

“It was difficult because healthcare providers didn’t look out for endometriosis because they considered it to be an illness that affects people of European descent.

“The healthcare system is also quite overburdened and so it was difficult to get access to care,” Dirks said.

Endometriosis may begin at the start of the first menstrual period and can last until menopause.

The cause of the condition is still unknown and there are no known ways to prevent the condition from occurring.

The condition can greatly affect the quality of life as it could result in severe pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and infertility.

There is no cure but symptoms can be treated with medicines or in some cases surgery.

“I was experiencing excruciating pain, especially in the pelvic area, lower back and even down my legs.

“It is often worse during my period but I had symptoms all through the month that varied in severity.

“I also bled heavily, experienced nausea, dizziness, headaches and fatigue,” Dirks said.

Dirks said it was important for people to understand that the condition affected the entire body, and was not always localised to the pelvic area.

The condition causes severe pain in the pelvis region, especially during menstrual periods.

Some people may also experience pain during sexual intercourse or when using the bathroom.

“I decided to write this book because I hope that it will help someone advocate for themselves and seek the help they need.

“As well as hopefully reaching healthcare providers to hopefully bring awareness to how biases and prejudices can negatively impact the lives of patients,” Dirks said.

In the book, Dirks explores the social impacts of being chronically ill and how patients are often failed by the healthcare system.

“She also discusses how workplaces can be less accommodating to people living with a disability and those who are chronically ill.

She also emphasised how vital having a support system is in helping those with the condition move forward and accept their condition.

Hot Water can be purchased at major bookstores such as Exclusive Books and online at

[email protected]

Related Topics:

Cape Town