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Endometriosis is more common than you might think, and the condition brings lots of painful symptoms with it. But one woman has revealed strangers often congratulate her because endometriosis makes her stomach swell so much that she looks pregnant.
Thirty-eight-year-old Emily Mulet was officially diagnosed with endometriosis - a painful disorder in which tissues from the womb grow outside the uterus - in 2013.
She experienced an ectopic pregnancy with her former partner and doctors found evidence which suggested endometriosis during surgery.
The mum-of-one said she has battled the 'debilitating' symptoms of the disorder for over 18 years, including periods that are so painful she has to miss work each month.
Emily, a personal cruise consultant, said the pain in her back and abdomen can be so intense her doctor has prescribed codeine, an opiate, to help her cope on tough days.
Endometriosis also causes Emily's stomach to swell so much that strangers regularly ask her if she is expecting a baby.
Emily, who hails from Davie, Florida, said: "I am not a skinny woman by any means. I have curves but when I have a flare up, I get so big and bloated and huge it can look like I'm pregnant.
"People often ask me when I'm due, or if I'm expecting. It's embarrassing."
The mama-of-one recalled: "One day I was in the baby aisle buying something for my niece and a lady asked me how long I had left.
"I don't take offence because I know people mean well, but it's not fun. This condition really impacts women's lives."
Emily revealed that having endometriosis has also caused her love life to suffer.
She explained: "I've been single for a long time now and I have no interest in being in a relationship right now because of this.
"When I'm in so much pain and so bloated and uncomfortable, I don't feel pretty, I don't feel sexy, I don't feel desirable. It's so lonely.
"I haven't had any experience with men treating me badly but it's my own fear.
"I was in a relationship for a very long time and my partner was nothing but supportive, but right now I have no desire to be intimate with anyone."
For Emily, the pain is debilitating, and when her period comes, it is constant. She experiences fatigue, and suffers from 'horrific' abdominal and back pain that feels like 'someone is hitting her back with a hammer'.
The condition also affects her intestines, so Emily also suffers from IBS.
She added: "During my periods I am in so much pain that I have to miss work.
"I try to power through but sometimes I just can't get out of bed."
Emily continued: "I'm lucky to have very understanding employers but I work in sales and any day you can't come in, that's commission you are missing out on."
After almost two decades battling the condition, Emily has decided to undergo a hysterectomy this autumn, an operation to remove her womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
The 38-year-old hopes that the procedure will help her have a pain-free life, excel at her job, and find love after years of turmoil.
Emily said: "Making the decision to have a hysterectomy is very difficult.
"It feels like by taking away your womb, you might be taking away what makes you a woman.
"But I thought about it. I have been battling this intense pain every month since I was 18 years old.
"It's become unbearable.
"It's holding me back in every way. I'm so tired of it. I'm at my wit's end."
Endometriosis can make it difficult for women to have children, although Emily has a son, Reggie Rivera, 19.
Emily said: "Even though I'll never be a mom again, I have a niece who I love and I've made peace with it.
"Hopefully someday I'll be a grandma."
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