These all too common women’s health conditions were glossed over and ignored by my doctors but I refused to stop pushing until I got the information and treatment I needed. If you’re experiencing anything unusual, open a dialogue with your doctor and don’t give up until you have answers.
- Endometriosis Endometriosis is an excess of scar tissue in the uterus. After complaining to my doctor about severe abdominal pain after eating, he basically told me to take some Beano. Really? So I started to look into it myself. I recognized that a high vegetable diet helped with the pain but didn’t get rid of it. I also recognized that the pain had increased since a routine surgery that I’d had the year before. I later found out that due to a mistake during surgery, I was left with an excess of scar tissue in my uterus. After some research, I discovered how close all those female organs are to the digestive tract, which is why my gut was irritating the scar tissue and causing a lot of pain. So I started eating a lot of naturally fermented food and kept on with my healthy diet. A year later, I hardly ever experience any pain. Awesome!
- UTIs I found out about urinary tract infections once I started having a lot of sex because I got them constantly. Why did nobody tell me that sex would do this to me? Thankfully, my body eventually got used to all the messy sex and with high water intake and peeing after sex, I stopped getting them. Whew.
- Low iron levels I found out after giving blood that my iron levels have a tendency to be low during certain times of the month. This info became invaluable once I got pregnant because I was able to recognize my anemia. Unfortunately, I had to press the doctor for a blood test. She downplayed my complaints of feeling overly exhausted because apparently that’s a normal feeling. Ugh. To help combat this, I eat a lot of bran, steak, tomatoes, and orange juice. Iron supplements can also be helpful for some people!
- Weight gain Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and even healthy, yet a lot of women become anxious over gaining so much as five pounds. Growing a human being sometimes requires lots of cheeseburgers and that’s alright. Weight gain or weight loss after a stressful event is also normal. I often go back to being healthy once I feel better. I only care about my weight if it’s affecting my energy and how I feel about myself. For some reason, weight and self-care rarely come up in conversations with my doctor when talking about my mental health.
- The realities of postpartum depression Hormonal changes (women have a ton of these throughout their lives) can mess with mental health. For me, it was having babies and postpartum depression that threw me off-balance. I was trying to heal from pushing a 10 cm head out of my vagina while caring for a human being. People and doctors alike should have been asking me how I was healing and how I was caring for myself after having said human, but questions about my health were few. We need to be more diligent with this, people.
- Diastasis recti This is the separation of the vertical abdominal muscles. If you have that annoying muffin top that hangs over your pants even though you’ve lost all the weight you can healthily lose, you just might have what I had. The bad news is that crunches and pull-ups aren’t going to help. You need a full body workout that focuses on your core. Do some research on self-diagnosis and find out what you can. Even though a very high percentage of women suffer from this, very few doctors will mention it. If left untreated it can cause balance issues, hernias, or back pain. I was able to fix this by doing balance exercises, specifically yoga. If it’s not causing you issues and you’re not bothered by it, by all means, leave it alone.
- Mastitis This is an infection of the milk ducts that reside in the boobs. A lot of women get this when they’re breastfeeding but you don’t actually have to have a baby to suffer from it. Bacteria can enter through cracked nipples or a nipple ring as well. Bottom line, keep those nipples clean and dry! I used to rub a lot of olive oil on them because olive oil is not only a natural moisturizer but it’s also anti-bacterial. It’s also edible. Awesome!
- Hormonal imbalances Our bodies are so complex. In general, we should be having a lot more conversations about how our bodies fluctuate and occasionally become imbalanced depending on what’s going on. A little research and we might find that the health issue we are struggling with is related to a simple hormonal imbalance. When it comes to my personal health, a doctor is not always going to know what I need. It’s up to me to know what my body is up to, especially when it comes to my hormones.