Nambitha Ben-Mazwi opens up about being diagnosed with endometriosis: ‘This has been the toughest time of my life’

Local actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi.
Local actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi.
Oupa Bopape/ Gallo images

Nambitha Ben-Mazwi has opened up about being diagnosed with endometriosis and healing from an emergency surgery due to her diagnosis.

Taking to Instagram, the actress shared a picture of herself in a hospital bed and she explained how she has been healing from surgery for almost six weeks ago.

Read more | How do you know if you've got endometriosis? Being more tired than usual could be a sign

“25:05:20 I underwent emergency surgery. A number of procedures were done, above and beyond being diagnosed with stage 1 endometriosis. This has been the toughest time of my life. But with the storm I have seen and felt God cover me like no other,” she posted.

“When the time is right, I will open up more and share about this Illness, and female reproductive health. As well as medical aid because yey man!But for now, I want to say thank you to my family. It’s been hard doing this far from them and away from home, but I have felt them and my mom (that woman I cry thinking about how amazing she is) has nursed me virtually to a better place.”

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Shew. Ok here it goes. 25:05:20 I underwent emergency surgery. A number of procedures were done, above and beyond being diagnosed with stage 1 endometriosis. This has been the toughest time of my life. But with the storm I have seen and felt God cover me like no other. I have been very quiet and understandably so. I haven’t been myself because wow, It’s been a lot. But I need to lead by example and show the true beauty that comes with vulnerability and open up about this time in my life. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, leading up to the surgery and finding out the news. The recovery hasn’t been smooth sailing, but now I am in a much better place. A more peaceful place and am surrounded only with love. When the time is right, I will open up more and share about this Illness, and female reproductive health. As well as medical aid because yey man! But for now, I want to say thank you to my family. It’s been hard doing this far from them and away from home, but I have felt them and my mom (that woman I cry thinking about how amazing she is) has nursed me virtually to a better place. My friends who have been there for me. Thank you. I also apologize in advance to those dear to me who didn’t know. I wanted the space to deal with this in my own way. And announcing to all those close to me was just already giving me anxiety as I didn’t want many to worry. God has done something amazing during this painful trying time, He has sent me #endowarriors who have found their way to me. You know who you all are. No one fully understands this fight, much like #endometriosis sisters. I plan on sharing my testimony which is in the works with you soon. How I was able to pucker up the courage to smile in this pic after hours of surgery, is beyond me. I am now on a 6 week recovery at home. It is well. ?? All my love, Lady Nam #ThankYouJesus

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WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?

It is a condition of the  reproductive system where tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries, the outside surface of the   uterus, bowel, bladder and rectum. This tissue continues to respond to changes in your hormones during your period. Over time, the tissue thickens and becomes trapped, causing extreme pain and scar formation.  

HOW DOES IT AFFECT FERTILITY?

About 30% of women with infertility problems have endometriosis. Endometrial tissue in the pelvis can trigger an inflammatory reaction that can affect egg development, ovulation and fertilisation. The formation of scar tissue (created as endometriosis irritates surrounding tissue in the pelvic cavity) can also block the Fallopian tubes. Scar tissue can bind pelvic organs to one another or cover them entirely.  

SYMPTOMS

Many women have no symptoms but others experience: painful menstruation, including pain in the lower abdomen, back and legs; pain during intercourse; fatigue; painful bowel movements;   urinary urgency; and frequency infertility.    

Read more | ‘I have endometriosis – but nobody understands it’

THE RISK FACTORS:

The exact cause is not known but you are most likely to develop endometriosis if you:

  • Are between the ages of 13 and 40
  • Have not had children  
  •  Are overweight   
  • Have heavy or prolonged periods   
  • Had your first period at an early age (before 12)  
  • Have a family history of endometriosis.   

DIAGNOSIS     

Many women only discover they have endometriosis after visiting their doctors because they’re struggling to become pregnant.   

Your doctor or gynaecologist may conduct a physical examination, ultrasound and MRI scan. The best way to determine if you have endometriosis is a laparoscopy– a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the abdomen allowing close inspection of your organs. A tissue sample may also be taken for testing. 

“There is a lack of guidelines for treatment of the disease, especially in primary healthcare settings, as well as few proper referral systems, especially in rural areas far away from major cities,” Dr NAME?? Matjekane says. “In cases where a person can’t afford private care, they can be referred to a tertiary institution within the public sector for specialist intervention.”      

 TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT     

There’s no cure or way to prevent endometriosis, but treatment can help manage the pain and increase the chances of fertility. Surgical options include the removal of the growths or a hysterectomy (the removal of the womb and cervix) if you don’t plan to have children.

Early diagnosis and removal of the growths through surgery can prevent it from worsening. Medication options include hormone therapy, pain drugs and hormonal contraceptives. A specific diet can also help lessen the symptoms.   

THE EMOTIONAL TOLL  

 Endometriosis can have a negative impact on you mentally and emotionally. “Most women seek medical assistance for the pain, but they may not be ready to deal with possible fertility issues, which often come as a shock,” says counselling psychologist Lauren Moss from Sandton. “If your doctor doesn’t explain it in a way that helps you to make sense of it, seek further support.   

“Consider reaching out to other women who are living with it and can offer emotional support and practical advice. Once you begin speaking to others, there’s a good chance you’ll discover that many women indeed have children despite having endometriosis.”   

Moss also suggests the following to ease your emotional pain: give yourself time to process the    emotions – don’t sweep them under the carpet. It can help to write down your thoughts, as this often leads to an expression of emotion.   

Write down all the questions, fears and concerns you have, no matter how big or small, then take these questions to your doctor. It’s part of their job to help you understand.   

If you find your doctor dismissive about your concerns, take the questions to a counsellor or seek support online. There are many supportive communities online that can help. But a word of caution – if you turn to the internet too soon, before you have processed your own emotional response and have an understanding of  your own concerns, you may end up being distracted  from your journey by other people’s experiences.

Support systems are the most influential factor in dealing with difficulties. Find someone who can listen to your concerns and give you the support you need.