Her Instagram photo shows the visible, physical effect of endometriosis
Endometriosis is a debilitating, chronic disease affecting over six million women and girls in the United States alone. And yet, so much about it remains unknown and unspoken, with many women suffering in undiagnosed silence. This fact prompted Thessy Kouzoukas, fashion designer and endometriosis sufferer, to open up about it in a recent essay and Instagram post.
“This is quite shocking to people,” she wrote in the caption. “This is me. This is endometriosis. […] The left is my stomach 3 weeks after a ruptured cyst (5 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.”
Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus. In typical cases, the lining is trapped in the abdomen and pelvic area. In rare cases, the lining can be found in other areas throughout the body. Symptoms are usually severe pain before, during, and after your period. For a lot of women with endometriosis, the pain is debilitating enough to keep them from functioning normally.
In her essay for the Huffington Post, Kouzoukas said she hoped opening up about her lifelong struggles with the disease would help other women feel with endometriosis will relate, and “to educate both men and women without the disease, on the life-altering effects it has on many women around the world, even the women around you.”
In the essay, Kouzoukas explains that too often, endometriosis is overlooked just run-of-the-mill period pain and not taken as seriously as it should be, by both peers and the medical community alike.
“When I first got my period as a young teenager, I got labelled ‘lazy’ when I couldn’t participate in certain sports at school, or ‘drama queen’ when I would take days off school because I was doubled over in the shower trying desperately to find relief from abdominal pain,” she said. “Why didn’t they tell us that debilitating pain isn’t normal?”
Why is it that women sometimes have to suffer extraordinary amounts for extended periods of time before we are believed? My sister suffers from endometriosis, and I’ve personally witnessed the effect the disease has on her life. The pain, the exhaustion, the alarming amount of blood she loses every month is a lot to bear. Like many women with endometriosis, she’s been battling it since her early teens. She’s in her twenties now, and was just recently prescribed medication for the first time to help alleviate some of the symptoms each month. Because as women, we’re made to feel like we should handle whatever comes our way and to complain or articulate our suffering could be perceived as being “dramatic.”
Which is one of many reasons why Kouzoukas’ essay is so important. ‘For girls suffering — go and see your doctor if you haven’t already; especially young women who can get on top of this early,” she writes. “Don’t be shy or ashamed to talk about endo.”