I got my first period when I was 15-years-old and once I turned 19 I began to have horrible periods—I’m talking legs going numb and tingling, extremely heavy periods, dizziness, and painful cramps. I did not understand what was going on with me so I went to my previous doctor and explained my symptoms to her.
She was very confused by my symptoms but put me on a new birth control which was supposed to help with my cramps. Sadly, no birth control or pain killers helped my symptoms, and after five years of extreme pain and my doctor not knowing how to treat my symptoms, I came to terms with the realization that I would be stuck with this pain until menopause.
In January, 2019, as I was watching videos on YouTube, I saw a suggested video titled, “Tia Mowry on Her Endometriosis Journey”, so I decided to click on it. Throughout her video, I was shocked that I could relate to so many of her symptoms and once the video was over I began to do my research on endometriosis and I was even more confident that this was my condition.
A couple of days later, as I sat and talked to my mom about my pain, she was shocked that I had been going through this and she told me that I should go to another doctor because five years without any improvements is not okay. I agreed and I set up an appointment to see her doctor.
The Doctor’s Appointment
I had my appointment scheduled for early March and I was okay with the long wait because I had already dealt with my pain for years, so what’s two more months?In early February, my doctor’s office called and told me that they had a new doctor and if I wanted to make an appointment with her instead I could see her in two weeks. I said why not! So on February 21, 2019, I met my amazing doctor.
As I talked to her and explained my symptoms, for the first time I had a doctor who listened to me, and once I finished talking, she told me that based on my symptoms she believed I had endometriosis; to confirm I would need to have surgery.
I scheduled my surgery for Tuesday, February 26, 2019.
I was nervous but my nerves could not compare to the peace inside me. I knew that today would be the day where I would get the answers I have been waiting to receive for over five years.
The surgery I had is called a laparoscopy; in this procedure, the surgeon inserts a laparoscope, a lighted instrument with a small video camera, through a small incision. If the surgeon needs better access, they make one or two more small incisions in order to use other surgical instruments.
Fast forward to after my surgery. I was in pain, but the pain did not compare to the menstrual pain I endured every month. I was somewhat out of it due to medication but I remember my doctor coming to talk to my mother and me, and she let us both know that I did indeed have endometriosis, and a lot of it, actually. My doctor made three incisions to get all of the endometriosis out.
It took me under two weeks to heal completely and I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor and we discussed the best treatment to help with my endometriosis. We decided to try Orilissa (200mg for 6 months) then I switched to 150mg afterward. If you are not familiar with Orilissa, it is a prescription medicine used to manage moderate to severe pain associated with endometriosis. It’s a pill that dials down estrogen. Lower estrogen levels can help manage endometriosis pain. Orilissa can come with extremely negative side effects, and doesn’t work for everyone, so I strongly suggest talking with your doctor, doing research on the drug, and doing what feels best for yourself.
After surgery and taking Orilissa for a month, I had no pain when my cycle started. I was shocked and even shed tears because this was the first time in five years that I was not in bed, curled up in pain. I was actually able to go out of the house and enjoy my day. I never in a million years would have thought that I could be a normal woman with a normal period.
I must admit that after switching from 200mg to 150mg, I began to feel cramps and bloating; but it was nothing compared to the previous pain I felt prior to my surgery. The pain was manageable and I was able to just take some over-the-counter medication and go to work and school with no extreme issues.
As you may know, endometriosis has no cure so there isn't just a one-fix solution, sadly. Along with Orilissa, I take birth control, eat healthier, exercise, and I am able to take charge of this condition and get my life back. I found that finally having a name for my pain removed so much stress from my life and now I am able to educate others about this condition and also educate myself more on how to better help my body.
This is why I wanted to share my story. I know that there are so many women of all ages who have horrible, indescribable periods, and if my story can help women ask their doctors questions and not stop until they have an answer, then my job is done.
If you know of someone who has endometriosis and is dealing with this pain, please be understanding as this is an unbearable condition and we, as women, just want to finally stop feeling this pain. And if you are a woman who is dealing with endometriosis, know that you are a Warrior and you have thousands of women right with you, walking through this with you, and we are not going to allow endometriosis to take our future! You are not alone!
Jatava grew up in Northport, AL, and went to college at The University of Alabama in Birmingham where she studied Sociology with a concentration in Social Psychology. In her spare-time, Jatava enjoys spending time with her dog, Mixien, planting, and writing. Like many other women, Jatava has suffered from endometriosis for over eight years and she knows firsthand how it can take control of one’s life. Jatava is an advocate for spreading awareness of endometriosis and hopes that one day no woman will have to suffer.
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*Patient stories submitted to EndoFound.org are the views of the patient and not necessarily those of the foundation. All testimonials are from real patients, and may not reflect the typical patient’s experience, and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.