One of the things we aspire to do at Vespertine is to raise awareness around sexual health while buildilng an inclusive safe space where people can learn and ask questions. March was Endometriosis Awareness Month and several celebrities (including Padma Lakshmi, Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer) came forward, sharing their own personal stories and experiences with this disease.
“Awareness is everything,” Tamer Seckin, MD told Everyday Health. “In the ‘90s when I first began seeing patients, I realized that the pain that women experience during their periods was not believed in by doctors or loved ones. When I realized that the disease endometriosis was the reason behind these symptoms, I found a complete lack of interest about it.”
Dr. Seckin is an endometriosis excision specialist as well as cofounder of EndoFound with Padma Lakshmi. He also has said that “if it wasn’t for celebrities, this disease would not be on the front pages.”
Often referred to as “endo,” endometriosis is a condition that happens when tissue similar to the lining of a uterus (womb) grows outside of the uterus. When we found out that endometriosis affects about 200 million women worldwide, which is approximately 1 out of every 10 people with vulvas in the United States, we knew this was a topic we wanted to highlight at Vespertine.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, but other symptoms may include:
- Painful periods
- Pain in the lower abdomen before and during your period
- Cramps for one or two weeks around your period
- Heavy bleeding during or between periods
- Vaginal pain or discomfort sexual intimacy
- Painful or uncomfortable bowel movements
- Lower back pain any time during your menstrual cycle
Endometriosis.org explains that symptoms can also include mental health challenges like fatigue and mood swings. The site advocates for more education about the condition because the disease is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether. This is due to a general lack of awareness by both health care providers and people with uteruses due to the normalization of symptoms like pain during periods.
If you think you may have symptoms of endometriosis, finding a specialist is crucial to getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. Begin by reviewing your symptoms with your OB/GYN, or another trusted medical professional, so they can assist you with recommendations, referrals, and follow-up care. You deserve sexual health and wellness, and that includes regular check-ups and help with potential conditions. At Vespertine, we have a network of specialists in our Wellness Directory that can be a great place for you to start your search.
Once a specialist has been chosen, they will help you curate a program to help treat and/or alleviate symptoms. Because endo affects your pelvic floor muscles, when they don’t work right, you can experience even more pain. Pelvic floor exercises are sometimes recommended to help strengthen those muscles and one tool that can help with that is the Temperature Therapy Pelvic wand by Intimate Rose - a smooth and comfortable silicone wand that has optional warming or cooling therapy for pelvic pain and endometriosis symptoms. Pelvic floor PT and visceral manual therapy can help resolve or at the least alleviate the abdominal and visceral symptoms associated with endometriosis.
If you are experiencing pain during intercourse, your healthcare provider may recommend a product called OhNut - comfortable modular rings that people can customize that will act as a soft buffer during intercourse.
A spa day might be just what the doctor ordered. A back or abdomen massage can help ease your menstrual pain, both right after the massage and even more in the weeks after. Massages can help you beat stress, too. We have many massage oils that can help make your experience even better!
We don’t have all of the answers but we will tap into our network of specialists to help you find answers and products that will support you on whatever path you might be on. We are here to advocate for you and help you find a community of support.