A woman who has been living with chronic pain for more than 20 years has revealed why she has made the difficult decision to have a hysterectomy done to relieve the symptoms of endometriosis.
Lisa Potter-Dixon, 39, who lives in London, explained the impact endometriosis has had on her life in a discussion with daytime host Lorraine.
The make-up artist said she has become ‘used to the pain’ and will not let that stop her from living her life as she praised the support of her husband Theo while revealing that her dogs have taken over children’s place.
Lisa Potter-Dixon, 39, (pictured), who lives in London, revealed she must have a hysterectomy in hopes of beating the chronic pain caused by endometriosis
Lisa told presenter Lorraine that she has been experiencing pain every day for the past 20 years and some days are more unbearable than others
Lorraine admitted that she ‘does not know’ how Lisa has managed to cope with endometriosis for so many years.
Lisa said: ‘After having it for so long, for me it is now the thought rather than the matter. I have found things that have helped me, but I think people underestimate the chronic pain.
‘I would say that every single day for the last 20 years I have five out of 10 pains. I think that when you have a chronic illness, you get used to the pain.
‘There are definitely some days in the month you have excruciating pain. But my whole attitude to it is that I just do not want to let it stop me.
‘The simplest and least scientific way to describe it is that when you have your period, you obviously bleed externally, but you also bleed internally when you have endometriosis.
‘It sticks to your ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines and it can also spread to other parts of the body. It causes excruciating pain because it causes scarring, cysts, it can block your tubes.
‘So everything around your stomach is tight like this and that’s the best way to describe it.
Lisa said she spent eight years having a baby before finding out she could not because of endometriosis
‘They say that about 50 per cent of people who have fertility problems are due to endometriosis and that is a huge amount. It’s one in 10 that we now know.
‘It’s about 176 million people globally that we know because the diagnosis can take 10 years for me.
‘Eight years of trying to have a baby and then finding out we could not because of it. It’s devastating.
‘I’m very lucky to have Theo, my husband, whose partner is incredibly supportive. I think my biggest advice to women is to remember that you are enough. It’s sometimes hard to remember. ‘
Endometriosis: What is it, what are the symptoms and how can it be treated?
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue covering the inside of the uterus, the endometrium, occurs in other parts of the body and causes chronic inflammation, scarring and pelvic pain.
The endometriosis tissue outside the uterus will bleed, just as it would bleed like the lining of the uterus. According to womenshealth.gov ‘this can cause swelling and pain because the tissue grows and bleeds in an area where it can not easily get out of your body’.
According to the NHS, it can occur in many different places ‘including ovaries, fallopian tubes’. Endometriosis tissue can also occur inside the stomach, in or around the intestine and bladder.
The condition usually affects girls and women of childbearing age and is less likely to affect women who have had menopause. Endometriosis is more common in women in their 30s and 40s.
The condition affects 6-10 percent of the general female population in the United States, according to a scientific article published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.
Endometriosis UK says that one in ten – around 3 million – women of childbearing age in the UK have the condition.
There is no known cause for endometriosis, although one theory claims that family genetics play a major role.
Other potential causes that have been investigated are problems with the immune system and complications from the menstrual flow, whereby the tissue secreted during the period ends up flowing through the fallopian tube to other parts of the body, such as the pelvis.
Endometrial cells can also spread through the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
The main endometriosis symptoms include chronic pelvic, lower back and abdominal pain, which may be worse than normal for a period of time; experiencing pain during intercourse, painful stools; bloating and nausea.
Painful menstruation and difficulty getting pregnant are other key symptoms. Experiencing heavy menstruation and infertility has been noted to be symptomatic of endometriosis.
The NHS recommends seeing a GP when symptoms appear, especially if they ‘have a major impact on your life’.
The doctor will perform a pelvic exam and may perform an ultrasound, but a laparoscopy is currently the only way to confirm an endometriosis diagnosis.
A laparoscopy is a procedure that involves the doctor making a small incision in the skin and passing a small tube through it to see if there are any spots of endometriosis tissue.
There is no cure for endometriosis. However, the NHS offers treatments that can relieve the symptoms.
These include painkillers like paracetamol, hormone medications and contraceptives like birth control pills, birth control patches and a IUD. Surgery to cut out the endometriosis tissue or parts of the affected organ are also options.
However, the NHS says that sometimes doctors cannot start treatment right away to see if the symptoms improve on their own.
Lisa explained that she is having a hysterectomy in the hope that it will remove most of the pain she is experiencing.
She continued: ‘It is not a cure that is the case with endo, there is no cure. I suppose one can somehow compare it to a mastectomy with breast cancer where we do it because it hopefully prevents the cancer from coming back.
»It is the same with a hysterectomy with endometriosis. You can get it and we hope it means it does not come back but it does not mean it is guaranteed. That’s the best option. ‘
Lisa revealed that it took Theo and her a long time to decide on the procedure, which will make them unable to have children.
Lisa told Lorraine (pictured left) that she and her husband Theo have a ‘good life’ with two dogs who are her babies
Lisa said: ‘We tried everything, not only Western medicine, which of course is incredible, but also Chinese medicine, acupuncture, everything.
‘I always wanted to tell people to try everything.
‘But I think we have a great life, we have good friends, we love our lives. I think children are obviously such a gift, but I have two dogs. They are my babies. ‘
Lisa said that women’s health is not talked about enough and that there are thousands of women who experience painful periods that make them unable to work but are unaware of the condition.
Lisa urged other women struggling with painful menstruation to visit their GP, claiming that “just getting the diagnosis is a relief”
‘Go to your GP, be persistent, ask to see a gynecologist. Do not just think I should have this pain, “Lisa added.
‘You do not have to go through this excruciating pain as much as you do. There is no cure, but there are things that help.
“Getting the diagnosis alone is such a relief.”
Viewers took to Twitter and revealed how they have handled the lifelong condition.
One person wrote: ‘I just had a hysterectomy at the age of 34 and they discovered I had endometriosis when they had surgery. I’m now looking forward to being pain free. ‘
Another said: ‘Research, training and empathy are needed. Age 21 was told by a male doctor in his 50s that I should just hold out until I had children and then could get a hysterectomy. Useful.’
A third added: ‘I had a hysterectomy as a 26-year-old due to endometriosis. I’m now 58. I personally have never regretted it. ‘
Many viewers took to Twitter to reveal that they had undergone surgery to try to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis