My battle with endometriosis

Rechelle Heldsinger tells us about her experience with this debilitating, painful condition.

05 January 2015
by Wendy Maritz

Rechelle was 17 years old when she was diagnosed with endometriosis, although her symptoms began in her early teens. “It started with extremely painful periods, it felt like my uterus and ovaries were wrapped in barbed wire and were being pulled out of my body. I missed a lot of school, I couldn’t take part in any sports and spent a lot of time in hospital. Later in my life, after getting married, being intimate was the scariest time for me because sex was very painful. I have also been suffering with infertility because of my stage 4 endometriosis.

“I was given various treatments during the 16 years I have been battling this disease. I was put on a number of different birth control pills and devices and have had six laparoscopies. The side effects of the some of the treatments are horrific, from nausea, hot flushes and night sweats to breakthrough bleeding and depression.

“Finally, in June this year, I had an excision laparotomy. I was on Visanne (a form of progestin that reduces the effects of oestrogen on tissues such as the endometrium) for six months before the procedure and then for two months afterwards. The combination of surgery and medication has been the only thing that has worked – the last six months have been the longest time I have ever been pain free.

“I urge anyone who is suffering from endometriosis to find a specialist in excision surgery. It is the best treatment and has a higher success rate than laser or ablation. (Laser/ablation removes the top layer of the endometriosis, excision surgery removes the endometrial implants.) I also suggest sufferers find a support group because depression is very common, and you need to talk about it.”

More about endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where cells from the lining of the uterus or endometrium appear and flourish outside the uterus, mostly on the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity, but it can also occur elsewhere in the pelvic cavity, including the Fallopian tubes, the ovaries and even the intestines. There is no cure for the condition, and treatment refers to getting a proper diagnosis, getting the painful symptoms under control, managing relationships (as painful intercourse is one of the most common symptoms), and restoring fertility where endometriosis is the cause.

Rechelle welcomes you to join Endo Warriors SA on Facebook, or visit The Endometriosis Society of South Africa for more information.