Woman Says Bloating From Endometriosis Caused People To Think She Was Pregnant
An endometriosis sufferer has opened up about the symptoms of her condition, which includes bloating so badly that people often assume she's pregnant.
Claudia Wright, 28, from Perth, Australia, was undiagnosed for 16 years before she finally learnt she had stage four endometriosis - which causes chronic pain, infertility, fatigue, painful sex, vomiting and bowel and bladder problems.
The incurable condition occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows elsewhere in the body, with nowhere for the blood to escape when it sheds.
While she has since undergone specialist surgery to remove the endometriosis, Claudia still gets severe bloating during her menstrual cycle, which leaves many people thinking she's expecting.
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This is even more crushing, since her condition means she may never be able to start her own family.
"It is a devastating blow every time somebody asks me if I am pregnant and when my due date is because I may never be able to have a baby of my own," she says.
"It is a cruel joke that I can look pregnant, but I may never be pregnant, the doctor has advised for my partner Michael Crugnale, 28, and I to start trying sooner rather than later as my chances are quickly decreasing.
"I tend to hide under baggy clothing or stay indoors when I have a flare up because of the pain to avoid being questioned by strangers.
"My left ovary is currently showing signs of shutting down and it's completely immobile, so I can't try for a family until that's sorted as I need to have it cut from the scar tissue.
"It's traumatic to be told you may not be able to have a baby, but hey, try anyway and try now, regardless of your personal circumstances."
Claudia was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 11 years-old as she suffered with excruciating lower abdomen pains, fatigue and rectal bleeding and migraines which has progressively got worse.
She spent 15 years being treated for the disease until 2017 when doctors discharged her and explained a 'misdiagnosis' - she then began to research and discovered endometriosis.
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She adds: "I woke up sick one day and have never got better, I have been going back and forth from the doctors and specialists for years, when they discharged me I took it upon myself to figure out what is wrong and get some answers.
"I was getting worse by the day and after seeing a gynaecologist and diagnosed with severe endometriosis, I thought my quality of life may improve but it was just the start of my nightmares.
"I had to leave my job in PR and marketing as I have been house bound for the past 18 months, I spend a lot of the time in my house and in severe pain.
"I have recently purchased a walking stick that can provide me with freedom as my pain, fatigue, and level of physical impairment make me unable to stand most days.
"Endometriosis is overlooked because it isn't terminal but the despair from living a life in severe pain that isn't believed, or going through repeated surgeries with no successful outcomes can be."
Now, Claudia shares pictures of her bloated stomach on social media in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.
In one post, she writes: "Endometriosis has ravaged my life since I was 11 years old. That's 16 years or 5048 days.
"Although it has caused me excruciating pain, sent me into panic attacks, severed friendships, forced me to take medicines that themselves come with severe side effects, sent me to the operating room at least 10 times, stopped me from working, put a hold on my potential and made me trapped in not only my home, but my body...
"It has also taught me strength, courage, perseverance, empathy, maturity, resilience and the ability to see what, and more importantly, who, is important to me. For that, I will be forever grateful."
What an inspiring woman.
Claudia's story comes amid disturbing new research from the BBC showed that 50 per cent of endometriosis sufferers have had suicidal thoughts as a result of their condition, as it laid bare the struggle they went through in the biggest study ever conducted.
MPs are set to launch an inquiry into women's experiences of endometriosis following the new BBC research.
Anna Turley MP - who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Endometriosis - praised the data for giving "millions of affected women a voice," and confirmed that the APPG would be calling for the government to act.
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