Started her period at 7, diagnosed with endometriosis at 12 - woman reveals her health battle

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Rozann Arjnan was diagnosed with endometriosis at 12.
Rozann Arjnan was diagnosed with endometriosis at 12.
Photo: Supplied by Rozanne Arjan
  • Rozann Arjnan was just seven years old when she started her menstrual cycle, and it wasn't long after that that her mother realised something was wrong.
  • At the age of 12, she was diagnosed with endometriosis.
  • By 21, she had undergone 26 operations.
  • After struggling to fall pregnant, she and her husband were blessed with a miracle baby.

Most seven-year-olds run around carefree on the playground but at that age, Rozann Arjnan had to deal with her first menstrual cycle. 

"Most girls get their period from about 10 or 12 years old, and here I was at seven years old, having to deal with my first period," she recalls.

"At first, my parents didn't think anything was amiss, but a few months later, my iron levels dropped drastically, and there was a change in my skin tone. I would also bleed for a whole month or sometimes two months at a time."

Rozann says fear of embarrassment made her dread school. 

"As a seven-year-old, you're used to running around on the playgroup with your friends, but I couldn't because I was scared of soiling myself. So when I was in Grade 2 and 3, I really dreaded school."

It helped that she had three older sisters she could talk to, but the road was still difficult for her physically and emotionally.

"My mom realised something was wrong and took me to a gynaecologist."

Rozanne had her first operation when she was 10 years old - a laparoscopy, as well as dilation and curettage (D&C), "which is a brief surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and a special instrument is used to scrape the uterine lining", she explains. 

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By the time she was 12, Rozanne had undergone two surgical procedures and had been diagnosed with endometriosis and iron deficiency. 

"So every year, like clockwork, I knew I had to have surgery. The surgery helped to relieve pain and helped with the cycle as well.

"My mom was amazing through all of this. She tried to understand as much as she could about endometriosis and would try her best to get the information in braille so that she could understand what I was going through. When I had to stay over at the hospital, she would chat to the nurses, make sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed."

Rozann's mom lost her sight after giving birth to her. "This was due to glaucoma and high blood pressure, and back then, she didn't know how to manage this and, as a result, lost her sight in one eye. Because of the headaches, her left eye was removed and she had a plastic eye. She eventually lost her sight in the other eye as well."

"I think it really affected her a lot that I was going through this, and she couldn't even see me," Rozann says. 

Rozanne Arjan
Rozann Arjnan pictured with her mother.

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By the time Rozann turned 21 she had undergone 26 surgeries. 

"The surgeries varied. Some were for research purposes, others were laparoscopies and D&Cs.

"Surgery just became part of my life."

In 2010 Rozann married her husband Sherwin, and the conversation about starting a family came up.

Before getting married, Rozann told Sherwin about her condition and the surgeries she had undergone.

"I come from a very big family. I have four siblings and they all have kids. So naturally, after getting married, you want to have a baby."

In their third year of marriage, they realised something was wrong.

"The thing is that even though we had been dealing with endometriosis for so long, I never thought about the fertility part. I was just trying to get through it."

When their friends started to have kids, it was bittersweet. "We were happy for them but sad for us."

And that's when depression would kick in. "I often asked God why He would give me a womb and not give me the ability to have a baby."

Sherwin spoke of the helplessness he felt watching his wife go through surgery after surgery.

"As a man, your natural instinct is to try and fix things, but this was something I could not fix. I felt helpless. All I could do was be there for her."

They then saw another doctor who suggested another surgery or in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

"We were financially not in a position to consider IVF, so I had my 27th surgery."

In total, the couple saw four different specialists and were finally told that they would not be able to have children.

"I was told that because of the amount of surgeries I had, my womb basically had a hole in it, and I would not be able to carry a baby. I would miscarry if I fell pregnant. 

"I was then told my only hope was IVF and was given a letter to see a fertility specialist."

By this time, Rozann had undergone 28 surgeries. 

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It was then that the Arjnans decided that they were done with surgeries and specialists and would turn to their faith. 

"That day, we stood outside that hospital emergency room and decided this was enough. It's either God is going to come through for us or not, but we were done with the surgeries.

"We went home and did not discuss the matter further. We put it in the hands of God.

"Our relationship with God changed drastically after that, and we began praying fervently and practically."

A year later, after a trip to Cape Town, Rozann felt ill and decided to take a pregnancy test. It was positive.

Rozanne Arjan
Rozann Arjnan pictured with husband Sherwin, and son Micaiah.

"I was 10 weeks pregnant and didn't know. Even the doctor clapped when he heard the baby's heartbeat. This was a doctor who knew my medical history. He knew what my womb had looked like before, so he celebrated with us. In fact, when he looked at the before and after pictures of my womb, he told me that my womb looked brand new. He even called my womb 'beautiful.'"

Their son Micaiah Judah is now four years old.

"I do believe that everyone's journey is different. For us, I know that God performed a miracle."

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Have you been diagnosed with endometriosis? Everyone's journey with this chronic disease is different. Share your story with us here

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