Endometriosis may affect up to 10% of women in the U.S., but it's still tricky to get a diagnosis, partially because there's still stigma attached to health issues related to menstruation. That's why Thessy Kouzoukas is sharing two revealing photos of what it can look like to live with the condition.
Last week, Kouzoukas, a creative director and co-owner of fashion brand Sabo Skirt, posted two side-by-side photos of herself that she says show the reality of her endometriosis.
"This is quite shocking to people," she wrote. "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."
Kouzoukas said that she never intended to share the photos on a public platform, "hence why I'm naked," but after hearing from others who suffer from endometriosis, she felt the need to spread the word.
"Please, spread the word about endo," she wrote. "And If you know anyone with bad period pain PLEASE tell them to get checked for this."
Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of your uterus (or endometrial lining) grows outside the uterus on other parts of your body instead of growing inside of your uterus as it should. Symptoms can include excruciating abdominal pain, irregular periods, and unusually heavy periods.
In an essay for The Huffington Post, Kouzoukas opened up further about her experience with endometriosis, writing that she had incredibly painful period cramps as a young girl, but her pain was never taken seriously — something that happens often, and that often delays the diagnosis for those who have endometriosis.
"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 wrote. "Why didn't they tell us that debilitating pain isn't normal?"
In her Instagram post, Kouzoukas wrote that she is set to undergo a 7+ hour operation in August to minimize the damage done to her body because of endometriosis, and until then, she is currently on medication to reduce the condition's symptoms.
'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 wrote in her essay. "Don't be shy or ashamed to talk about endo."
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