Christmas is a time for celebrations, but the fertility blues can flare at any moment when you hear people starting to plan those perfect get-togethers.
Our endometriosis columnist Emma Kemsley, shares her suggestions for managing the festive season…
I could hear the muffled clinking of glasses and the laughs over Christmas crackers being pulled at the table. I rolled over in my bed, clung to my hot water bottle and waited for the prescription painkillers to kick in. It wasn’t the first time I’d missed out on a celebration, but it was the first time I’d missed a Christmas Day with my family. It was upsetting, annoying, and had me asking the age-old question; why me?
Managing endometriosis is a challenge year-round, but at Christmas, it hits harder. It’s normal not to want to miss out at this time of year, however, the stress of preparing for the big day and festive plans can take its toll.
This season, rather than suffer in silence, don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. It’s OK to say no to plans. The best advice I can give is to put your health and wellbeing first.
In the past, I have pushed myself through a December of festive fun; shopping, days out and Christmas parties. Ultimately, overindulging in bad foods and alcohol without enough rest. And what happened? I paid the price. On 21 December, I was admitted to the hospital with erupted ovarian cysts. I had been a fool. My determination to have fun, no matter what, had hospitalised me. That’s the thing about endometriosis, if you don’t listen to the warning signs, it will stop you in your tracks. This is just one of the disastrous Decembers I have encountered over the years due to endometriosis and IVF.
Nowadays, I carefully plan my festive season. I use a period app to track my cycle and symptoms. This allows me to strategically plan around potential pain days and the days where the bleeding from my bowel will prevent me from leaving the house.
This year, I have purposely made no plans for five days during mid-December. I know during this time I will likely be bloated, uncomfortable and in pain. Rather than feel like I am missing out, I intend to use this time to wear cosy PJs, watch Christmas films, enjoy a long bubble bath and wrap presents.
If you’re experiencing a flare-up or struggling with symptoms, I’ve put together five tips for getting through the festive season.
1. Share your feelings
It’s ok not to be ok. If you’re struggling with symptoms or your mental health, tell your loved ones so they can provide the support you need.
2. Cancel plans
Flare-ups are tough, don’t feel obliged to take part in celebrations if you don’t feel up to it. Say no to plans if they may impact your mental and/or physical health. It’s ok to put yourself first. A period tracker is a useful tool to help you organise events around your symptoms.
3. Avoid alcohol
Try swapping your favourite tipple for an alcohol-free alternative. It might be tempting to have a glass of fizz or two, but alcohol can make inflammation and wobbly moments worse.
4. Listen to your body
The festive season can be full-on. If you’re struggling with problem periods, it’s your cue to slow down. If things get too much, put your comfies on, have a bath, watch a Christmas film and nap.
5. Stand up against FOMO
It can be difficult to miss out when it feels like your body is failing you. Avoid social media if you find images of others triggering. Remember you’re not alone.
Join an endometriosis support group to connect with like-minded people or share your feelings with friends and family. Check out our helpful resources for endometriosis.
Gift ideas for friends with endometriosis
- A journal; ideal for keeping track of symptoms and goal setting
- A hot water bottle; heat is great for managing pain and discomfort
- Essential oils; there are a number of scents available for relieving pain and stress
- Bubble bath; a relaxing bath can help ease bloating and pain
- A personalised care package; think of all the things that make your friend smile and create your own mini hamper