So you’ve had your long-awaited laparoscopy to remove you endometriosis.
You can’t wait for your next period to see what life is like without pain.
Then finally that day rolls around, only to discover it’s a far cry from an enjoyable experience.
It’s like taking your run down car to the mechanic only to break down half-way down the street, the radiator’s over-heating and oil’s spilling everywhere.
Something no-one really tells you, is what to expect with your first periods after endometriosis excision surgery.
So in this blog of my new “endo diaries” series, I’m going to tell you exactly what my experience has been like for the past two periods.
In a nut shell, most people will experience their next few periods to be:
- Heavier than usual
- Pain may be drawn out
I was fortunate enough that friends pre-warned me that the first few were going to be… well… a little bit shit. But without their forewarning, I wouldn’t have known what I was in for.
For me, the first period post surgery was definitely different. Interestingly there wasn’t a lot of pain leading up to the period. Even when I started bleeding, I only had mild cramps and was convinced it the surgery must have worked this fast.
But come night the cramps started creeping in and I had to take some OTC anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).
The bleeding was bright red. Like someone had cut my arm and let it bleed out kind-of-red. Fucking scary when you’re not used to it. Not even any clots. Just one big flow of blood.
I felt crampy for a couple of days. But I was pretty right after that.
In the lead up I was convinced I was actually pregnant. It’s not uncommon for women to fall pregnant the next month after excision surgery.
Around day 8 after ovulation I noticed a tiny bit of spotting on my underwear and thought it was implantation bleeding.
For four days leading up to my period I was really crampy.
My breasts were also a little tender.
“Was I also getting nausea?” I thought to myself at any given sign.
I also noticed “lightning crotch”; a sharp radiating pain that shoots down your vaginal canal. Yet another supposed sign of early pregnancy.
And herein lies the furstrating thing about the blurred lines between early pregnancy signs and endo.
Of course I WANTED to be pregnant. And the micro-analysing of every thought and feeling was actually driving me crazy.
Suddenly, no cramps at all for two days. I also had an abnormal amount of energy around this time. Usually before my period I start fading away like a Furby who’s batteries are dying.
On day 26 of my cycle (a little early) I woke up to a sexual dream. I knew it then that I was about to get my period. For some reason I always get a sexual dream on day 1 of my period.
I still can’t explain this, given all your hormones drop on day 1 (as opposed to ovulatory sexual arousal being due to a spike in testosterone. And yes. That’s also the reason men are so turned on every morning when their testosterone is at its highest).
I took some herbal anti-inflammatories and I was pretty much fine the whole day. Around 10pm the cramps started creeping in and to my delight my Ovira TENS machine had also arrived when I got home. Talk about good timing.
I really wanted to forgo NSAIDs this month. And with the Ovira‘s settings ramped up to its highest, I was able to get a full night’s sleep; a rare comfort for me on any first night of my period.
Day 2 I was feeling crampy, which dragged on all day. Dulled by herbal anti-inflammatories and high doses of magnesium citrate, but still definitely there.
What alarmed me though was just how heavy the bleeding was. Unlike many endo girls, full-blown menorrhagia isn’t something I usually suffered from.
This was heavy.
That day we had to drive to Melbourne for a funeral (always the best timing). So I decided to go back to my menstrual cup incase my cotton pads soaked through. And yep, even the cup leaked through too.
And like period 1, that night it was like a murder-scene. At one point when I wiped, there were also blobs of coagulated blood that freaked me out.
Fortunately I had some ‘Shepherd’s purse’ in my dispensary (a herb we use for heavy bleeding) so I took a shot of that before going to bed.
I still had some mild cramping for which the Ovira was able to disguise until I fell asleep.
I slept for 10 hours.
I felt depleted.
No doubt due to losing so much blood.
(I actually started writing this as I lay in bed wondering about what other women’s experiences were like).
The bleeding was still bright red but tapered off. Rather than a toilet bowl of Tarantino like the day before, it slowed to the rate you’d expect from a blood-rule on the footy pitch.
Surprisingly though, once I was out of bed I felt pretty good. I even tidied the house. Just like my energy leading up to this period, I’ve been rather happy with how less lethargic I’ve been. I would attribute this to a myriad of factors such as taking b vitamins, P-lift, avoiding dairy, exercising more and a few other naturopathic things.
So why does all of this happen and is it normal?
Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of healing going on when you’ve just had excision surgery.
For those not familiar, this consists of four key-holes made into your lower abdominal wall. They then excise (cut out) the endometriosis. For me it was behind my left ovary on my utero-sacral ligament and my bladder. I also had a 4.5cm pendunculated fibroid removed from the top of my uterus, as well as some bad adhesions freed up from an appendectomy 12 years ago (no doubt a major factor in my history of SIBO).
So healing doesn’t just happen over night.
Based on other’s personal stories, it seems to take around 3 periods to start to calm down.
I must say though, even though the pain has been drawn out and uncomfortable. It still hasn’t been as full blown as some past horror experiences. As I’m also taking herbs and nutrients to lift my progesterone, I’ve not had any PMS.
Given the amount of blood loss, I’ll be looking towards eating iron-dense foods and drinking strong nettle tea today to get my iron back up.
This cycle I’m going to be taking a TCM formula and castor oil packs for reducing pelvic congestion, which came recommended by my Naturopath friend and mentor Kate Harrison from www.littleyarrow.com.
I feel so fortunate to be in my Naturopathic community with such a condition, as we can help navigate these things together and learn from each other. We always say, we can’t treat ourselves.
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Let me know if there are any other topics you’d like me to discuss.