A young woman's pain was dismissed as a UTI for years — until she collapsed and doctors discovered 2 grapefruit-sized ovarian cysts
- Farren Bay was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 26.
- The condition causes abnormal growth of tissue similar to the uterine lining, but it's outside of the uterus.
Ever since she was a teenager, Farren Bay has suffered from painful periods that felt like her "insides were being ripped apart," only to have doctors dismiss her agony as constipation or urinary tract infections.
Now 33, the California native said she feels as if she is "trapped" inside the body of an elderly woman as she battles constant pain and aftereffects of a medication that temporarily put her in menopause.
Bay was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2015, the Daily Mail reported. The condition is associated with abnormal growth of uterine tissue, heavy periods, and blood-filled ovarian cysts — all of which can bring about severe pelvic pain.
About 10% of reproductive-age women and girls around the world are affected by endometriosis, according to the World Health Association.
Bay's gynecologist discovered her endometriosis via laparoscopic surgery, where a small camera is inserted to check for uterine tissue growing outside of the uterus.
Not everyone who has the condition will develop ovarian cysts, but Bay needed two grapefruit-sized cysts removed from her right ovary shortly after she was diagnosed in 2015. She's been trying to manage the painful condition since then, but the side effects of one treatment caused Bay to feel even worse, according to the Daily Mail.
One medication launched her into early menopause
After the surgery to remove the cysts, Bay was put on Lupron, a prescription drug that suppresses hormones and is often used to manage endometriosis.
The medication works by reducing levels of the hormone estrogen in the body, which stops menstruation and in turn may alleviate the period pain associated with endometriosis.
But patients who take Lupron may experience other unpleasant symptoms as they enter temporary menopause. Bay said she had "insomnia, hot flushes, mood swings, bone pain, and memory loss" after her first course of the drug, and the ordeal caused her to stop taking medicine to manage her condition for some time.
While hormone supressors like Lupron and oral contraceptives may provide short-term relief from painful or heavy periods, some providers advise surgery as a more effective treatment for endometriosis. The misplaced uterine tissue can be excised in a minimally invasive procedure, although patients who have widespread growths may opt to remove their uterus or ovaries entirely, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The condition can affect fertility
Endometriosis causes tissue that looks and acts like the uterine lining to grow outside of the uterus. Because that tissue is meant to insulate the womb for a developing embryo, people with endometriosis often have trouble getting pregnant.
The rogue tissue may grow into the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other parts of the female reproductive system, making it harder to conceive. Doctors told Bay that she is still able to have children as long as she gets pregnant via her left ovary and fallopian tube, since the right side was too damaged by endometriosis, according to the Daily Mail.
Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain during sex, "excessive" period cramps, painful urination or bowel movements during menstrual periods, and gastrointestinal problems like nausea, diarrhea, or constipation, according to Johns Hopkins.
The pain associated with endometriosis may vary from person to person, depending on where endometrial tissue has grown and how much it has infiltrated other organs and pelvic structures.
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