“Every time we talk about it, it makes it less of a stigma to talk about.”
Lyn Bowtell continues to share her ongoing struggles with endometriosis. The singer-songwriter and multi-Golden Guitar winner spoke with Tanya and Steve from Triple M Newcastle following her recent fourth excision surgery for the disease.
In the conversation, when Steve asks for a layman’s way of explaining endometriosis, which effects 1 in 9 women in Australia and over 175 million women (and those assigned female at birth) worldwide, Bowtell explains, “Basically, what happens is the lining of the uterus, the endometrium – it’s like that but not quite the same, they don’t really know much about it, they know a fair bit but not enough to actually fix it yet – it grows in the wrong place, it doesn’t grow in your uterus like it’s meant to.
“Surgery removes it, they use a laser, and it gets rid of it, so it can grow on your bowel, kidneys, it can grow anywhere, and a lot of women get terrible pain from endo, and they don’t know what it is and the weird thing about it is, you can be stage one or stage four and it doesn’t necessarily equal pain.”
She continues, adding that some women who are “covered in endo” don’t realise until they struggle to have children, while others, like Bowtell, experience endometriosis chocolate cysts.
“It sounds fun, it isn’t fun,” Bowtell laughs. “I had one grow on my ovaries six years ago and it ruptured. That was pretty painful. That’s the most pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life.”
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Bowtell previously shared her story for Endometriosis Awareness Month in a March 2020 Facebook post, writing in part, “This picture of me is from hospital, January 2017. An endometrioma on my right ovary had ruptured while I was watching the Star Maker finals in Toyota Park, Tamworth – during one of my busiest months of the year, the Tamworth Country Music Festival.”
“I'm a lot better now,” she continued. “It's still a daily battle for me, like all women with this disease. It's not easy, there's no cure and not enough research has been done towards finding a cure. If you know someone with endometriosis, check in on them, be a support and don't judge if they always seem tired or don't like to go out like they used to.”
According to the Endometriosis Australia website: "Endometriosis is present when the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) occurs outside this layer and causes pain and/or infertility. The lining layer is called the endometrium, and this is the layer of tissue that is shed each month with menstruation (period) or where a pregnancy settles and grows."
“It's a disease that is very common,” Bowtell adds. “It takes around seven years to be diagnosed.”
She goes on to note the frustrations some women experience getting a proper diagnosis, the long wait times to get a specialist appointment as well as common symptoms. Bowtell also mentions seeking proper diagnosis as there are other diseases with similar symptoms.
“There’s just not enough known about it. We’re finally getting some money for research, which is wonderful,” Bowtell adds. “It makes you chronically tired, it gives you terrible lower back pain, pain in your legs, it affects your bowel movements... There’s lots of things that go on with endo, lots of bloating, just discomfort and terrible pain.”
In a 2018 issue of the Woman’s Day, Bowtell revealed that she was 11 when she got her first period and began suffering severe pain by her early teens: “I felt the pain not only during my menstrual cycle but often in between, to the point where I was so incapacitated, I missed a lot of school.” She adds that she was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) at 15 and endometriosis at 17.
Furthermore, Bowtell’s song Leave It To Jesus off her latest album, Wiser, is about her endometriosis journey.
“Endometriosis is a disease that has caused me much grief, frustration, and anger! I’ve been told many times over the years that it was ‘all in my head’, that I was ‘exaggerating’ and that ‘there’s nothing we can do for you’. This song is for the Endo Warriors, the un-heard women being misdiagnosed EVERY SINGLE DAY,” she said in our exclusive track by track.
Additionally, singer-songwriter Tori Forsyth has also been vocal in sharing her endometriosis battle.
“My endo is still here. I still experience chronic fatigue at times throughout the month, my immune system still isn’t crash hot and every symptom I had creeps back in if I don’t stay on top of my regimes,” she writes in part. “... I have two options every single day. I choose to get down on it or I choose to fight. Some days, the fight ain’t there and I hand myself over. I stay in bed for some extra hours and take it easy. But most of the time, I’m up and I’m refusing to allow it to affect me.”
You can find out more about Endometriosis Australia here.