Opinion: My endometriosis pain caused me to make a huge decision
's impacted her life. Chandelis Duster removed her uterus in September 2022 after years of struggling with endometriosis. In this article, she details her journey and how the chronic pain, nausea, and heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis have impacted her life.
Chandelis Duster, a Washington, D.C.-based politics reporter, covers breaking news. These views are Duster's. CNN.
A September afternoon in 2022 was the day I wrote my letter to my uterus. I wrote a letter to my uterus, praying to God for the mental and physical strength I needed to endure the next day. It would be a life-altering experience that would alter the core of my being.
I wrote the letter reflecting on all the pain I'd experienced since my nine-year-old first period. I thanked my uterus and expressed gratitude for its ability to function as best it could. I expressed my regret that it was not possible to stop its destruction. At 34, I was ready for a new chapter.
Since I was young, I have experienced painful periods that caused nausea, vomiting, fainting, and painful bowel movements. I later learned that this was endometriosis. This happens when the tissue surrounding the uterus expands to other parts. Even the
While I was still a freshman at college, I was diagnosed with the disease during laparoscopic surgery to remove an ovarian cyst. Endometriosis is not curable. However, there are treatment options, including medication and surgery.
I was used to the painful effects of endometriosis such as chronic lower back and pelvic pain. But I didn't know that there were other conditions that could cause havoc to my body.
My symptoms were exacerbated by fibroids. I experienced bloating, heavy bleeding, and pain that felt like my pelvis was being pulled apart. It became more difficult to do simple tasks like sitting in a seat.
My doctors first found two small fibroids about the size of peas. They grew quickly and were eventually discovered to be larger. To make it less frightening, I named them mini Dragon Balls after one of my favorite anime series.
Over the years I tried to manage fibroids and endometriosis with medication for excessive bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and strong painkillers like Percocet. I also tried changing my diet but the endometriosis continued to worsen despite my best efforts. Side effects of the medication added to my health problems. It was not only during my periods that the pain became severe.
According to, a girl or woman might need treatment if they change their tampons or pads more than once every 1 to 2. Hours. To stop my clothes from bleeding, I used adult diapers and slept on an Incontinence Pad to keep my bed clean at night. I also developed iron deficiency and severe anemia from excessive blood loss.
Endometriosis, uterine fibroids and other complications were two punches in a fight that I wasn't mentally, physically or emotionally prepared to win. They had a negative impact on my mental health. I was depressed and sometimes contemplated suicide. Over 25 years, my life was a living hell. I had to miss school, pay thousands in medical bills and grind through excruciating pain throughout my career. My body was ready to have a break and start over.
It was difficult to make the decision to remove my uterus. It was difficult to think of losing the part of me that is so deeply connected to my femininity. Therapy helped me realize that I couldn't hold on to the things that were causing me so much pain. To live the life I desired, I had no choice but to let go how society defines womanhood.
Although I was open to the idea of motherhood before my uterus was removed, it wasn't something that I felt strongly about. Despite my current health, I believed that I would one day be able to have a biological baby. I received my results from fertility testing in 2021. They were shocking. I found that I had less eggs than the average for a woman my ages.
My uterus was surgically removed by robot-assisted laparoscopy on September 21, 2022. This happened exactly one year later. My fallopian tubes were also removed by the doctors during the procedure, but I chose to keep both my ovaries (and cervix) intact. My pelvic area was also cleaned of scar tissue and endometriosis from previous surgeries.
The next days were filled with complications, additional doctor visits, and I was unable to walk or rest for several days.
Six months later, my health is better than it was when I was young. It is difficult for me to admit that I used to have fibroids. Although the surgery wasn't a cure, it has helped me win a significant battle for my health and my quality of my life.
Over the years I have lived with my pain. Family members often said that painful periods "run in the family," and I was forced to live with my pain. As a Black woman, this perception that I should just persevere was particularly difficult. Not built with us in your mind
In the hope that young girls and women of color will not be left in the dark about their struggle with fibroids and endometriosis, I have made it clear.
I founded the support group for women with endometriosis, which I also co-founded. I've heard many stories that are similar to my own. I was able to find support that helped me make my decisions about my health and a safe place for me to vent my pain. You can decide whether you want to have your uterus or other reproductive organs removed. But you should be empowered to make the best decisions for your health and not follow what others say. You are your best advocate. Ask questions, voice your opinion and find the best treatment for you.
These people already have disparities in their health care.
These conditions should not be viewed as a problem only for women, but also for anyone. Supplemental assistance
Our society is too focused on telling girls and women what to do with their bodies. We need to have more conversations about and access resources to find fundamental solutions for how we can properly treat and heal our pain.