A 27-year-old has shared photos revealing how endometriosis affects her body to prove the condition is “no joke”.
Thessy Kouzoukas, who is the co-owner of the fashion brand Sabo Skirt, has been diagnosed with the painful condition, which occurs when tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb.
These pieces of tissue can then be found in many different areas of the body, such as ovaries, on the lining of the pelvis behind the uterus and covering the top of the vagina, says the NHS Choices site. They can lead to the production of cysts.
Kouzoukas shared images showing a ruptured cyst due to the condition.
“This is quite shocking to people. This is me. This is endometriosis. I never intended to share these photos hence why I’m naked, but my God, I can’t believe the amount of DMs I’ve received from girls who have endo too and feel alone,“ she captioned the images.
“The left is my stomach three weeks after a ruptured cyst (five weeks ago). The right is me now, on a drug called ‘synarel’ that has stopped all my hormones and sent me into menopause at the age of 27.”
Symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods or heavy periods; pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back; pain during and after sex; bleeding between periods and difficulty getting pregnant.
Kouzoukas added that she hopes the drug will help her get “prepped in the best condition” for an operation she’s receiving in late August.
“Endo is no joke. I’ll be operated on for 7+ hours and hospitalised for a week,” she said.
“Please, spread the word about endo. And If you know anyone with bad period pain, please tell them to get checked for this. And to my girls with endo, you’re not alone.”
More than 7,000 people have liked Kouzoukas’ post, with many women with endometriosis sending their love for the businesswoman.
“I feel your pain. I go through this every day. Inspiring you have shown this,” one user said.
Another added: “Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve had endo diagnosed since I was 17 and it’s been such an incredible struggle. Hoping all goes well for you.”
Commenting on the images, Aly Dilks, sexual health expert and clinical director at The Women’s Health Clinic, said “cysts can be a very common side effect of endometriosis”.
“But they are difficult to identify without medical diagnosis, such as an ultrasound,” she told HuffPost UK.
“A cyst can grow inside the ovary but mimic the symptoms of endometriosis in general e.g. painful periods, pain during sex or bloating.
“Around menstruation time certainly we would always advise an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen but with prolonged bleeding, bloating or menstrual-type pain at other times of the month, it is always best to get checked out by a health professional.”
She added that cysts can cause pain and inflammation around the reproductive organs “which in turn can produce pain and menstrual cramps throughout the monthly cycle, but occasionally they can grow in size, creating further problems including infertility as they stop our eggs from releasing”.
“I would always say it’s safer to get it checked out and please don’t be embarrassed by such a common condition,” she said.
“Chances are you will know someone who has the condition already, as one in 10 women in the UK are affected and 10% worldwide. So please, if you are worried, always consult a health professional.”