PARKVILLE, Mo. -- Millions of younger women have a disease that can be painful, depressing and even debilitating. It's called endometriosis, and it often goes undiagnosed because women think their pain is just a normal part of having periods.
Sheena Ivy of Parkville had symptoms of endometriosis for years before she was diagnosed.
"It would just hurt so bad that I would vomit. So sometimes I would shake. Sometimes I would get just really, really sick," Ivy said, referring to the symptoms she would have with her menstrual cycle.
With endometriosis, tissue that normally lines the uterus grows elsewhere causing inflammation, scar tissue and adhesions.
"So it affected my bladder and then also affected my bowels. So when I had the surgery for endometriosis, my ovaries were sealed to the sides of my abdomen, my fallopian tubes were completely blocked, and I actually had it on my bowels," said Ivy.
She takes multiple medications for endometriosis and related problems. She says even after six surgeries, she still suffers.
"So it's really hard and the heating pad is my best friend," she said.
Ivy encourages other young women to not wait to talk to their doctors about pain with their periods.
"It's not normal to have pain to the point you can't function. If that is the case, get into your doctor ASAP and just really push to have it checked out because all doctors don't know about endometriosis, and they don't know the extent of your pain unless you tell them," said Ivy.
It's important to note that some women have no pain with endometriosis. They don't know they have it until they seek help for infertility that can be caused by the disease.
There is no cure for endometriosis, but various medications and surgery can effectively treat it.