First thing’s first: the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is via laparoscopic surgery (but serious PSA - a negative lap is not definitive proof against endometriosis [repeat 5x]). That in mind, it is very possible (if not highly likely) that someone who is being considered for an endometriosis diagnosis will undergo this surgery.
FYI - laparoscopies are often referred to as ‘keyhole surgery’. Just different terminology. So if you're doctor is banging on about keyhole, don't stress - that is this!
In a nutshell: the surgeon makes several small cuts in your abdomen, pumps gas into you to see your organs more clearly, and then uses small, lighted cameras to look for evidence of endometriosis. They can then treat the endometriosis they find (if it’s not too severe - in which case a follow up surgery can be required).
I have had three laparoscopies so far, the first of which was an emergency diagnosis procedure and the other two were for treatment (2015, 2017, 2019) - fingers crossed there’s no 2021 lap!
I reached out to my wonderful friends in the endo / female health community to see if they had any top tips for someone going into their first (second, third+) laparoscopy surgery. Unsurprisingly, they came back with some AMAZING insights. Thank you all. So much.
So, without further ado, here are some top tips from the marvellous endo community:
PLAN FOR THE RUN UP TO SURGERY: “plan for the run up e.g. go and do something nice the day before you’re op!” @theendospectrum and “stay strong and have a positive mindset when you go into surgery. This surgery is a GOOD thing” @endo_diaries_
KEEP AN OPEN MIND: “don’t let yourself worry about finding something/not finding something, regardless of what happens, laparoscopies will always get the ball rolling into finding you some answers!” @endoleah
BE PREPARED TO STAY OVERNIGHT: “even though laparoscopy usually requires no overnight stay or just a night’s stay in hospital, be mentally prepared that a longer stay may be needed depending how surgery goes, expect the worst and pray for the best” @endo_survivor
PACK THE RIGHT THINGS: “take your own pillow, phone, charger, laptop, books, water bottle, nighty or 2, toothpaste and toothbrush and any supplements or meds” @endohealthclub and “slippers for walking down to surgery” @tiff_foster97
ASK YOUR QUESTIONS: “make sure you write down all your questions you want to ask before and after the op, I didn't do that and forgot to ask so much” @endo_emilyx “and clarify them if you don’t understand!” @ladywithendo
FIND OUT YOUR RESULTS: “make sure your gnyo tells you exactly where endo was found and how severe it was” @endolauren and “make sure the hospital give you your surgery notes before you go home if at all possible” @crush_endo
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE: “always have someone in the room when they do your post op report - when you have a morphine pump and god knows what other painkillers, you can barely see the doc let alone make sense of what he’s saying!” @theunhappypelvis and “my biggest tip would be having somebody ‘at your service’ to go get your medicine and bring you anything you need brought to your bedside!” @endomego
STAY COMFORTABLE: “always take comfy underwear and bottoms for the swelling afterwards” @_secretlifeofendo and “bring a soft pillow to put between your tummy and seatbelt for the drive home” @my_stupid_endo
PREPARE FOR COMING HOME: “make sure you have throat soothers and laxatives in for when you get home” (throat soothers for discomfort from the tubes/anaesthetic) @endochloe
PEPPERMINT IS YOUR BFF: “drink peppermint tea by the bucket load directly after your lap as it really does ease the pain in your shoulder and stomach” (from the gas they pump into you during surgery) @hannahcade_
PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST POST-SURGERY PERIOD: “be wary that the first period after surgery is an absolute bitch…when I started bleeding I thought it was the surgery gone wrong” @understandingmypelvichealth
TAKE IT EASY AFTERWARDS: “don’t compare your recovery time to other women. Everyone’s body is different. Remember it can take up to 6-12 months to fully recover and see improvement” @hannahcade_ PSA: my first surgery took around 8 weeks to recover from, but after my third I was happily back in the office after 5 days! So don’t worry about being “normal”.
PLEASE check out my wonderful pals in the endometriosis community. I have included their Instagram handles throughout the post so get following!
Remember: you can always check out Endometriosis UK for more advice/information on the procedure: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/your-laparoscopy