Kayla Itsines tells her endo story.
When I was 18, I found out that I have endometriosis. It’s an incredibly common and debilitating condition that affects one in nine women and those assigned female at birth. The chances are even if you’re not a person with endo you definitely know someone who is!
This Endometriosis Awareness Month I’m teaming up with Endometriosis Australia to help raise awareness and break the silence about endometriosis because it takes an average six and a half years to be told you have endo. That’s a really long time to be living in pain.
Now remember, I’m not a doctor and your experience with endo might be completely different to mine. My number one piece of advice for anyone who thinks they might have endo is to speak with your doctor. While you can’t get rid of endometriosis, there are ways to help you manage it and ignoring it will NOT make it better!
What is endo and what are the symptoms?
Every month, the endometrial lining is shed during your period. Endometriosis is when tissue similar to that lining grows where it shouldn’t. So many people think endometriosis is just a painful period and that’s definitely NOT the case.
Endometriosis Australia lists these as common symptoms:
- Pain that stops you on or around your period
- Pain on or around ovulation
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain when you urinate
- Pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs
- Having trouble holding on to your bladder or having to go to the bathroom
- Heavy or irregular bleeding
My endo symptoms
When it comes to my own experience with endo, I have experienced so many of these! Having heavy, painful periods was one of my biggest symptoms and I remember being so jealous of all of my friends who could carry on as normal during their period because that just wasn’t the case for me. I used to walk around school with heat pads on my stomach because I was in so much pain. Your period shouldn’t be debilitating!
I have also experienced pain in my legs, like a constant burn or ache whenever I was walking up or down the stairs, and I always say I have a weak bladder, but I know that’s really due to my endo too.
I also started getting cysts that would burst. I’ve had cysts burst mid-workout before and that really sucks. Not everyone gets cysts, but this is what ultimately encouraged me to reach out to my doctor.
Being diagnosed with endo
Speaking to your doctor about your signs and symptoms is just the first step in receiving a diagnosis. Your doctor can’t be 100% sure you have endo unless you have a surgery called a laparoscopy. If you have a laparoscopy, you’ll be put under a general anaesthetic and they will place a thin telescope into your belly button so your doctor can see inside your abdomen.
It’s so important to take the time to recover and let your body rest after surgery! I had to take six weeks off when I had my surgery which was the longest break from exercise I had taken in years. Working out isn’t just something I love to do, it’s a huge part of my day-to-day life in my role as Head Trainer at Sweat, so it was SO HARD for me to take a step back from training but it’s so important to listen to your body and give it time to heal.
Endo and fertility
Endometriosis can impact your fertility which is really hard to hear as a young woman and I was really taken aback when my doctor told me I might not be able to have kids. As you know, I now have a beautiful daughter, Arna, and was so relieved when I fell pregnant with her. Before my pregnancy, I was so worried about what my endo diagnosis would mean because I knew I wanted to have kids one day.
I know for so many people with endo, knowing that endo might affect your fertility can take such a toll on your mental health if you want to start a family one day. If this is you, I hear you, I understand and I’m sending you so much love and support.
Speak to your doctor
If you’re reading this and thinking you might have endo, I encourage you to speak to your doctor. If you’re not sure where to start, organisations like Endometriosis Australia has so much great information available and they are raising funds for research in Australia so we can learn more about what causes endo and how to treat it.
Today, I’m healthy, fit, a businesswoman, a mum – and I have endo. It’s something I will have to live with for the rest of my life and if you have endo too, I want you to know there are so many people around the world that know what it’s like and are here to support you.
Kayla Itsines is the co-founder and Head Trainer at Sweat, a leading women’s fitness app that offers a digital solution for women around the world who want to work out anywhere, anytime.