My name is endometriosis. I have many names and many faces. Some label me as “bad period pain, others, as neurotic, attention-seeking and dramatic.” LOL. If only they knew… I steal lives, quietly. I have been known to ruin relationships, careers and sanity. While I am a chronic condition, few people know or fully understand the destruction I may cause.

I live outside of your uterus while, in-fact, I should be inside. I can be found in your pelvis, ovaries, bladder, and diaphragm and in rare instances, your liver, lungs and brain.

I cause lots of pain because the condition causes inflammation, sometimes it causes organs to fuse together.

I can cause scarring and internal bleeding and cysts. I have companions too, you see, IBS, chronic fatigue, constipation, diarrhoea, painful sex, nerve pain urinary frequency and in some cases infertility. About 60% of women, who live with me have difficulty conceiving.

So while she tries to go about her daily life, I continue to torment her. She reaches out to doctors, specialists and friends, asking for help but no-one quite seems to understand or takes her cries for help seriously.

Because after all she doesn't look sick. Yet, I'm there, almost daily, to remind her that I'm never too far away.

While she tries to conceive, I inflame her ovaries, so she opts for IVF. If she's lucky, she may conceive. Other times, it’s a hit and miss. Until I’m excised, she may not get lucky. And yes, mostly 60% of women with endometriosis fall pregnant eventually. So joy, oh joy, she falls pregnant and gives birth, but I continue to thrive. Because you see, pregnancy does not cure endometriosis, nor does a hysterectomy.

While she's trying to be a mom, I continue to cause her so much pain she can't see straight. Because I'm an inflammatory condition, I cause chronic fatigue too. She will struggle to nurse a new born and keep her eyes open yet she will try to put on the happy face of a new mom and loving partner.

She will be out there trying to be a career women, chairing board meetings while I'm out there putting pressure on her bladder and forcing her to excuse herself every so often to go to the loo.

She will be out there trying to be a sex goddess while it hurts so much. No one will see her tears when her husband turns his back on her, because he gives up.

I have a secret to share with you…

I am not indestructible.

I can be treated and eradicated. I am not “bad period pain”. I don't live in her head.

I am a chronic condition that can be successfully treated, if you listen to the person I live inside of. If the doctor hears her cries for help and doesn't dismiss her, if the employer stops raving about the sick days she takes because of “bad period pain” and if her partner and loved ones makes a concerted effort to understand to me. If people just start talking about me the same way they talk about any other chronic illness, there's hope for her yet.

I affect 1-10 women. That's an estimated 176 000 000 women world-wide.

Acknowledge her pain, hear her cry for help. Rally in the cure to end the stigma attached to endometriosis.

Maybe, just maybe, in a million light years from now, we'll all laugh at the ignorance and struggle of women fighting endometriosis whose voices were dying to be heard. Maybe there's hope for you all yet.

Valencia Kippie

Foundation of Endometriosis Awareness Advocacy and Support