Updated: Jul 9
Endometriosis is a common but often misunderstood and misdiagnosed health issue affecting millions of women globally. Despite the fact that it can cause a range of symptoms, including painful menstrual cramps, fatigue, and digestive problems, blood tests usually show normal results. This leads to a common misconception that if bloodwork is normal, a person can't be sick. However, this couldn't be further from the truth for women with endometriosis.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of it, leading to pain, inflammation, and scarring. Although this tissue can grow anywhere in the body, blood tests cannot detect its presence. This is because blood tests are designed to detect hormonal imbalances, infections, and other conditions that can produce similar symptoms, but endometriosis does not cause abnormal changes in hormone levels.
“What I will also say is, just because your symptoms don't categorically fit a diagnosis does not mean there's nothing wrong. Your body is giving you a check engine light, your body is giving you symptoms, because something is going on, stay aware of your body, trust your body.” ~ Dr. Lj Johnson IHP. FDN-P. IIN, CHEK
The disconnect between normal bloodwork and ongoing illness can be incredibly frustrating for women with endometriosis. But it is important to understand that endometriosis is a real and physically painful condition that requires medical attention. The first step in managing endometriosis is to find a doctor who understands and believes in the condition, and who is willing to work with you to find a treatment plan that works.
Along with finding the right doctor, it's essential to take a proactive approach to your health by maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress in a way that works for you. These lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms and improve the overall quality of life. It's also crucial to educate yourself about endometriosis and the various treatment options available, such as pain medication, hormone therapy, or surgery in some cases.
What are the Basic laboratory tests you will request as a Chronic Illness Warrior?
As a Chronic Illness Warrior, it is important to understand the basic laboratory tests that can provide valuable insights into your health. One of the most crucial tests is the CBC with differential, where the differential part is the key to unlocking important answers about your health. It is unfortunate that some doctors may only run the CBC, but it is important to ensure that you specifically request the CBC with differential. In addition to the CBC, a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) is also recommended to get a broader picture of your metabolic functions. When it comes to thyroid health, it is important to request the full thyroid panel test that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, and antibodies. Additionally, an iron panel, vitamin D test, and lipid panel are recommended to monitor your overall health. With this combination of tests, combined with your medical history and symptoms, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of your health and take steps toward managing your chronic illness.
Tips to step up your health and advocate for yourself
#1 Trust your body
Know that what you are feeling is valid. Look at integrative medicine or functional medicine rather than conventional medicine.
Learn more about Conventional Medicine vs Functional Medicine here
# 2 Don't be afraid to ask for additional testing
When it comes to testing, it is crucial to make sure that you are getting a comprehensive examination. Simply checking the TSH level of your thyroid may not give you the complete picture. It is important to ask for a thorough evaluation that includes looking at the antibodies and reverse T3 levels. Additionally, timing is key when it comes to hormone testing. To get the most accurate results, it is recommended to have the bloodwork done on day 21 of your menstrual cycle. Don't hesitate to ask for a more in-depth examination to get a better understanding of your health status.
# 3 Take control of your health because you are worth it
Taking control of your health is a vital aspect of living a fulfilling and satisfying life. Your health is an investment in yourself and your future, and it should not be taken lightly. By prioritizing your well-being, you are showing yourself that you are worth it and deserving of good health. Whether it means seeing a doctor for regular check-ups, eating a balanced diet, or incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, taking charge of your health can lead to a happier and more productive life. You are the best advocate for your health, so don't be afraid to take the necessary steps to ensure that you are in the best possible condition. Remember, you are worth it, and taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.
# 4 Bring a concise symptom journal to the appointment
Having a symptom journal can be a valuable tool when visiting the doctor. By documenting your symptoms, eating habits, stressors, and menstrual cycle, you can provide the doctor with a comprehensive overview of your health. This information can help the doctor understand what is going on with your body and make a more accurate diagnosis. The reference ranges for lab levels are just that, references, and it is okay to fall outside of those ranges but still not feel well. It is important, to be honest, and upfront about how you are feeling and to provide the doctor with a detailed account of what has been going on in your life. Walk them through a day, a week, and a month, and tell them about any flare-ups or missed work due to illness. With a concise symptom journal, you can ensure that you receive the best possible care and treatment.
In conclusion, bloodwork being normal doesn't mean that a person is not sick, especially in the case of endometriosis. If you have endometriosis, it's important to know what bloodwork you will need, find a doctor who believes in the condition, take control of your health and explore treatment options to manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.
You are not alone, and hope for a better life with endometriosis is possible.