Taking Care of “Down There:” My Favorite Vaginal Health Products

After years of struggling with chronic yeast infections, vaginal dryness due to birth control and vulvodynia, I’ve tried nearly every vaginal health product under the sun.

From this experience, I can confidently say that not all vaginal health products are created equal. The marketing slogan “gynecologist-recommended” doesn’t mean that you can trust them to be safe for the sensitive skin “down there.”

When you have endometriosis like I do, it’s also important to be conscious of what products go onto your skin — and your mucous membranes, like the vulva, are some of the thinnest, most absorbent skin on your body. In other words, the products you use on your vagina have a direct line to your bloodstream, making it especially important to choose organic, natural, safe products for your vaginal health.

These tried-and-true vaginal health products are some of my favorites for soothing vaginal irritation and dryness, as well as managing menstrual health conditions like endo.

Check out my picks for the best vaginal health products out there — and make sure to share this post on social media if you found it at all helpful!

Vmagic Feminine Lips Stick

If you suffer from vulvodynia, you may have heard to use vitamin E or another oil to soothe the skin “down there.” But once you’ve tried that, you quickly realize that it gets messy, often with more of the oils on the floor or your hand than on your vulva.

Vmagic’s Feminine Lips Stick solves this problem by providing moisture and protection in a convenient stick. Similar to a lip balm tube, the soothing honey and oil formula can be applied to the vulva easily and without irritation. There is a light honey scent due to the ingredients, but no added fragrances or perfumes — and the smell and taste are pretty unobtrusive.

I’ve personally used Vmagic’s Feminine Lips Stick and can attest to its power. Previously, I was using vitamin E oil from Trader Joe’s to soothe my sensitive skin, but now that I’ve converted to Vmagic, I’m never going back! It’s so much cleaner, more convenient and more portable than any vulvar moisturizer I’ve used.

Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer

Vmagic has you covered when it comes to your vulva, a.k.a. the external portion of your vagina. But what about the inner part, the vaginal canal? Many women suffer from vaginal dryness, whether due to menopause, oral contraceptives or stress, which can make everyday life, not to mention sexual activity, painfully impossible.

Replens is a long-lasting vaginal moisturizer that gynecologists everywhere swear by. It is FDA-approved, lasts up to three days and does not contain hormones or fragrance, so it will not mess with your delicate biochemistry. The formula is designed to mimic your body’s natural moisture — and I promise, after you apply Replens, you will hardly notice it’s there at all. It’s also affordable, costing about $12 for 14 applications. (If you apply Replens every three days, that’s a little over a month’s worth.)

Throughout my years on the pill, I suffered from painful vaginal dryness and recurrent yeast infections that took me from gynecologist to gynecologist. As a result, I’ve developed vulvodynia from the vaginal trauma. I hate to think that the answer could have been as simple as a vaginal moisturizer, but no one ever told me that Replens was an option before! Now that I’m on progesterone again to suppress my endometriosis symptoms, I happily use Replens every three days to restore my vaginal moisture to normal again after the hormones mess with my body’s natural balance.

Slippery Stuff Personal Lubricant

Do you suffer from allergic reactions or sensitivities to drugstore-brand lubricants — i.e. K.Y. Jelly and the like? I feel ya, sister: I’m so sensitive down there, even ultra-sensitive formulas of some lubes sting against my irritated skin. And because everyone knows that wetter is better, having a bad experience with lubricant can really pump the brakes on a happy, healthy sexual experience with a partner.

Enter Slippery Stuff. I happened upon Slippery Stuff from a Youtuber’s recommendation during my quest to find a female-friendly lubricant. Formulas containing aloe tend to irritate my skin, which rules out a lot of the “natural” options like Sustain or Good Clean Love (both of which I’ve tried and found flare up my vulvodynia). Thankfully, I found Slippery Stuff, which is glycerin- and paraben-free: two sources of irritation for many women that are found in typical personal lubricants.

Since it was originally developed for use in the medical community, Slippery Stuff’s gel formula is ultra gentle. You also don’t need a lot to feel the hydrating effects. I have very few criticisms of this product, but one I do have is that it can linger for awhile after use and feel a bit sticky. However, it’s water-based, so it washes off with a simple shower or wipe-down…. more on that in the next section.

Rael Natural Feminine Wipes

Like many women, I used to use drugstore wipes formulated for “sensitive skin” to clean up on my period and after sex. Then, I was diagnosed with suspected endometriosis and found out the importance of eliminating chemicals from your everyday life. My vaginal wipes were one of the last things I replaced, since I was so fond of my usual brand; however, I’d been hoping to try Rael for awhile, and I’m so glad I finally did!

Rael’s natural feminine wipes are not too wet, unlike some other products, so they won’t leave you sticky or uncomfortable, nor will they irritate your skin. They’re fragrance-free with soothing extracts that make these wipes both cleansing and nourishing. The package is portable, so you can carry a pack in your purse for those days when your period hits unexpectedly — not to mention, they’re affordable for a product branded “natural,” at just $4 a pack.

I’ve seen Rael at my local CVS and my local Target — but when in doubt, don’t forget that there’s always Amazon! I buy mine on Amazon because you can get a two-pack for $6, and I’m a sucker for a good deal. But you do you, boo. I won’t judge!

Love Wellness UTI Don’t Think So

Full disclosure: I haven’t tried this specific brand of cranberry pills. However, I’m a huge fan of Love Wellness and wanted to include their products (which I plan to write a review of very soon!) in this post. I’ve used many generic cranberry pills, but they weren’t nearly as sophisticated as Love Wellness’s UTI Don’t Think So — nor did they have the phenomenally clever name.

Studies show that over the course of a year, consuming cranberry as a supplement can reduce the incidence of UTIs by 35 percent. That’s a big deal for those of us who get recurrent infections, so cranberry should definitely be on your radar if you’ve ever had a UTI. But, it’s important to note that drinking cranberry juice doesn’t work the same way. It’s not concentrated enough to have the same effect — and it contains lots of sugar that adds up over time.

That’s why cranberry pills are such a magical modern invention. I chose to feature Love Wellness’s formula because they’re doing incredible things right now in the women’s health and sexual wellness spaces, and their products are made with high-quality ingredients you can trust. If I had the choice between Love Wellness and my local drugstore brand, I would choose Love Wellness every time. And they’re pretty much the same price, too!

L. Organic Cotton Panty Liners

I’ve raved (and raved….and raved….) about L.’s products in the past. Back when I used to get my period (LOL), I swore by their super pads for managing my monthly flow. Now, however, it’s all spotting thanks to the hormones I take for my endometriosis. Thankfully, L.’s organic cotton panty liners have got my back on days when spotting catches me by surprise.

L.’s organic cotton panty liners won’t irritate your sensitive skin, because they’re made from just that: organic cotton, and nothing else. That means no chlorine, no bleach and no hidden chemicals — which, sadly, you might find in traditional period products, since the FDA doesn’t regulate the ingredients in pads and tampons.

It’s important to use 100-percent cotton for other reasons, too. If you’re prone to bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections, synthetic materials can trap moisture that allows bacteria and yeast to breed. In fact, switching to all-cotton period products (and panties) is one of the things that helped me conquer chronic yeast infections, and one of the things that led me to L.!

Health / Life Update: Moving to Rhode Island, Rescheduling Surgery + Side Effects from Progesterone

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and am not qualified to give medical advice. I am sharing my experience as a patient to help you make educated decisions about your own health, but please — consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment plan or routine!

Hello, endo babes! I am always excited to bring you all another health update, but especially excited for this one because it’s also a life update… and sorry, it’s a long one. Who’s ready?!

*pause for dramatic effect* WE’RE MOVING TO RHODE ISLAND!

Back in March, David (my partner whom I also live with), who is finishing medical school this year, participated in the Match and found out his residency will be at Kent Hospital, affiliated with Brown University, in Rhode Island.

We’re both excited to begin this next chapter of our lives together, along with our dog Chandler — but since, as many of you know, I’m originally from Boston, I’m thrilled that I’ll be living just a short hour away from my closest family and friends again!

One of the downsides of the move, however, is that I’ll need to start building a new treatment team for my endometriosis — probably back in Boston, since it’s nearby and the hospitals there are, in my opinion, some of the best in the world. (Not to mention, I’m already familiar with the medical system there, though I hadn’t been diagnosed with suspected endo yet when I lived there.)

As many of you also know, I was scheduled to have my diagnostic laparoscopy for my endometriosis in August 2020. Needless to say, my laparoscopy is now on hold for the time being — not only because of the move, but also because of the coronavirus. COVID-19 has led to a swathe of cancelled surgeries, meaning mine likely would have been pushed off anyways.

I’ve posted a lot on Instagram about how emotional this time has been for me, so I won’t go through all those negative emotions again here. Instead, I’m trying to focus on the positive — which means putting together a new treatment team for my endometriosis and sharing a health update with you.

I’ll also be sharing my (mostly positive, so far) experience taking progesterone, now that it’s been (at the time of writing this) about two months now. In a previous health update, I shared that my doctor started me on norethindrone to help me skip my periods and manage my endometriosis pain until my surgery — and now that I’ve been taking it for awhile, I want to share how I’ve been feeling and the side effects I’m attributing to the minipill.

My Shortlist of Endometriosis Centers in New England

As my fellow endo babes know well, laparoscopic surgery is a delicate procedure that shouldn’t be handled by a general surgeon. It needs to be performed by a highly-trained minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon. But, since there aren’t many fellowships in this incredibly specialized field, the right surgeon can be difficult to come by.

Previously, I planned for surgery with Dr. Lindsey Valentine at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Endometriosis and Chronic Pelvic Pain. I highly recommend her and can’t stress enough how comfortable she made me feel throughout the stages of scheduling my surgery.

Since we’re moving, surgery in Cleveland will no longer be a practical option, since I’m not interested in (and not even sure I’d be allowed to do) plane travel after having laparoscopic surgery. So, I’m trying to find a new surgeon with experience in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery and in treating endometriosis. After that, I’ll also need to find a new pelvic floor physical therapist, since we probably won’t be continuing telehealth appointments once the coronavirus chaos is over!

Rhode Island doesn’t have any specialized clinics (that I’ve found) for endo or chronic pelvic pain, so I’m turning to my hometown of Boston to take advantage of its world-renowned hospitals. So far, here’s my shortlist of Boston-based hospitals for endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain:

  • Boston Children’s Hospital. Boston Children’s is one half of the Boston Endometriosis Center, a partnership between BCH and Brigham and Women’s. Because I’m 21 going on 22 (and the cutoff for BCH is 21), I’m in an awkward position where I could be treated at either hospital.
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This hospital in Boston is one of the best for a number of conditions and treatments, so I feel comfortable entrusting them with my care. As I noted previously, they’re also part of the Boston Endometriosis Center along with BCH.
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. BUT, my top choice right now for endometriosis treatment is Beth Israel’s Center for Endometriosis and Complex Pelvic Pain. Because I’ve been diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction and vulvodynia in addition to my endometriosis, I feel confident that their center can treat my case with empathy and knowledge, despite its many complications. They focus on a holistic approach that integrates treatments like acupuncture in addition to traditional medical approaches like laparoscopic surgery and pelvic floor physical therapy.

My Experience with Norethindrone (a.k.a. The Minipill), Two Months Later

Now, for the medication update…. in case you missed my previous blog post on the subject, I’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about norethindrone.

Norethindrone, also known as the “minipill,” is a progestin-only birth control pill. It works to prevent pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus so sperm can’t pass through, but only works if you take it at the same time each day.

I’m not taking it for pregnancy protection, since I have a Liletta IUD that I’m extremely happy with (but let me know in the comments below if you want me to write a review of my current birth control method!). Instead, my doctor and I decided to layer additional hormones on top of my IUD to stop my periods, since I still get a monthly flow on the IUD.

My doctor figured that inhibiting my menstrual cycle would stop a lot of the negative symptoms I was having, such as horrible ovulation pain and uncomfortable bloating and constipation leading up to my period. So, I agreed to try it — and so far, I’ve been pleased with the results!

Inhibiting periods completely isn’t an ideal long-term solution for endometriosis pain, but I was all for trying a low dose of hormones as opposed to a shot to induce perimenopause — especially in the time leading up to my surgery. Now that my surgery has been pushed off further, I’m especially glad that I decided to start the minipill to manage my endometriosis symptoms, since who knows how long it will take them to squeeze me in now?

I’m pleased to report that my side effects from the minipill have been minimal thus far, and that it’s mostly doing what it promised to do for my overall health and well-being. I get far fewer cramps / muscle spasms throughout my cycle — David and I have both noted that I’ve spent much less time these past two months doubled over in pain — and haven’t had my typical period flow since I started the minipill.

What I have experienced on the minipill has been some mild spotting throughout my cycle (mostly light pink or brownish in color, and extremely light in flow) as well as breast enlargement and tenderness. The breast tenderness has been bothersome since it prevents me from engaging in strenuous exercise. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, however, the most difficult side effect to manage has been the weight gain.

Previously, I was on a low-dose antipsychotic (which treated my depression by making my existing antidepressants more effective) that caused me to gain some weight — about 10 pounds in two months. I have since discontinued that medication and am happy with my current regimen for mental health. But, since weight gain is also a side effect of progesterone, I haven’t shed the excess weight as quickly as I thought I would after stopping the antipsychotic.

Granted, I do think that most of the weight gain has been in my boobs. As a small-chested girl, this seemed, at first, like a great problem to have — but it hasn’t been great for my wallet, since I’ve needed to replace a lot of my bras. Plus, as I mentioned, the breast swelling has caused a lot of tenderness that has made movement difficult…. I can’t imagine going for even a slow jog in my current state!

You might also be curious about how the minipill has affected my sexuality, since many birth control pills / hormone-based medications can impact sex drive and lubrication, among other things. Well, I’m happy to report that my libido hasn’t changed, but given that it was already low due to my chronic pelvic pain, I’m not sure if the medication has had any effect on it or not.

Still, I do think the minipill has affected my ability to achieve lubrication during sex. As I mentioned, the minipill prevents pregnancy by thickening cervical mucus — and while I’m not taking it to prevent pregnancy, I obviously can’t selectively choose which of the medication’s effects I do or don’t want.

In general, I’ve noticed thicker, drier discharge, similar to what I normally would experience after my period or toward the end of my cycle — only now, it’s all the time. Because the minipill prevents me from ovulating, I no longer have the stretchy, clear cervical mucus that indicates when I’m in my fertile window. This has caused some discomfort during sex, but using plenty of lube helps. I also plan to try the Replens vaginal moisturizer and will let you know how that goes!

Overall, I’ve experienced a few small side effects from the pill — but none of them compare to the benefits the minipill has had on my endometriosis pain. I’m not saying that hormone therapy is right for everyone, but in summation, I think that the pain relief I’ve gotten is more than worth a few uncomfortable side effects.

For me, the side effects of the minipill are definitely not bad enough to discontinue the medication, and the benefits absolutely justify continuing to take it. However, even after two cycles on the minipill, it’s still quite early to tell. I’ll check in a few months to let you know how my experience is going and if my opinion has changed after being on the minipill for a longer period of time!

Staying Safe from Coronavirus with a Chronic Illness

It’s a scary time to be someone with a chronic illness right now. Thankfully, endometriosis doesn’t affect my immune system the way chronic illnesses like cancer and cystic fibrosis might. But seeing as most of the deaths from COVID-19 are coming from those with preexisting health conditions, you might be feeling a bit uncertain regarding the relationship between coronavirus and your chronic illness.

The Los Angeles times recently released an (excellent!) article that states that an estimated six million Americans take biologic drugs for chronic health conditions. These drugs can weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses like COVID-19.

For the 1 in 10 women like me who suffer from endometriosis, there’s a chance our immune systems may also be weakened: studies have found a close link between endometriosis and other autoimmune diseases (such as lupus), suggesting a strong immune component to endo.

The last thing I think anyone should be doing when it comes to the coronavirus is panicking — but if any young person has cause for concern, it’s a young person with an impaired immune system. Talk about people over the age of 60 dying is masking the very real fears that people like us have about coronavirus taking hold.

So, since our disease response isn’t doing much to support people with chronic illnesses, what can we do to be proactive against COVID-19? I did some research — and here’s what I’ve found.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus….

Wash your hands. If you haven’t heard to wash your hands often (and sing “Happy Birthday” twice while doing it), I have nothing to say to you right now. Wash ya damn hands. That’s all.

Don’t touch your face. Your eyes, nose and mouth should be considered off-limits when you’re out in public. At home, if you must touch your face (for example, if you need to blow your nose), wash your hands afterwards for at least 20 seconds.

Use a face mask properly. If you use a face mask improperly, you are better off wearing no mask at all. Masks are made to be disposed after one use, not reused over and over again. When you reuse the same mask for long periods of time, you actually create moisture that attracts germs.

Avoid contact with people who are sick. Whenever possible, maintain distance between you and people who are sick. If you must be around someone who is sick (for example, if your significant other is sick and you live together), self-quarantine for at least two weeks — or longer if you contract the virus.

Have at least two weeks of groceries on hand. In the event you must self-quarantine, you may need to stay at home for extended periods of time with no warning — hence why so many people are stocking up. Now, you don’t need to go to extremes, but it is a smart idea to have two weeks of nonperishable and/or frozen groceries on hand in the event of an emergency.

If you have a chronic illness….

Stock up on medical supplies. If possible, contact your doctor to receive extra quantities of prescription meds. Otherwise, try a mail order service like Amazon’s PillPack. (This is the service I use for all my meds and I love it!) You should also stock up on face masks, gloves, OTC vitamins and minerals you may take, cleaning wipes and all-purpose cleaner if possible.

Avoid public places as much as possible. When you are especially vulnerable to coronavirus, practice what is called social distancing. Keep contact with your friends via text, call and FaceTime or Skype, rather than meeting in person. Work from home if your boss allows it. Use grocery services like Instacart and Peapod to have food delivered to your home. In the modern era, it’s easier than ever to isolate yourself!

Consult with your healthcare providers. Have a plan in case you get sick of whom you will contact if you exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Telemedicine appointments are preferred over in-person ones. Talk to your medical team about whom you should call or video chat with if you believe you may have the coronavirus.

If you don’t have a chronic illness….

STOP stockpiling medical supplies. The average person does NOT need to wear a facemask (and may actually put themselves at risk by doing so) or gloves unless they are actively sick with COVID-19. Someone with a serious illness who is at higher risk of contracting coronavirus needs these medical supplies more than you do. You can and should stock up on tissues, cough drops and other items to help you recover at home — but those who have a chronic illness may not be able to recover at home if they contract the coronavirus.

The Ultimate List of Endometriosis Resources

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a portion of any purchases made on my blog. Thank you for supporting Endo Strong!

When I first began to consider endometriosis as the root cause of my long-standing symptoms, I didn’t know where to turn — other than the Internet! It’s thanks to the wonders of modern technology that I was connected to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Endometriosis & Chronic Pelvic Pain, and that I was able to discern that the period pain I’d experienced for years wasn’t normal, after all.

But one thing I wish I’d had that I didn’t was a list of resources to help me manage my endometriosis better at home. Everywhere I turned, I read the same advice: use a heating pad. Avoid dairy and gluten. Take some vitamins. But really, I was looking for more. I wanted to know everything there was to know about managing my endometriosis.

Now that I know more about my disease, and about how to manage it at home, I’ve decided to put together the ultimate list of resources — the list I wish I had when I first heard the word “endometriosis” — to help you learn everything there is to know about endo and take care of your body amid its pain and suffering.

Required Reading

Apps to Download

  • In the FLO is the paid period-tracking app to accompany WomanCode and Alisa Vitti’s cycle-syncing method. The app lets you log your symptoms and provides recommendations for controlling them naturally.
  • Flutter is a must-have for anyone with endo! In Flutter, you can log your symptoms in detail (the app is geared specially toward endometriosis sufferers), as well as your diet, exercise and sexual activity, and export them to a printable format to bring to your doctor’s office.
  • Clue is another period-tracking app I love. It learns from the symptoms you log to predict exactly when they will arrive, giving you a heads up via notification when you might be in for some extra pelvic pain or GI discomfort.

Printables

Vitamins & Supplements

  • Magnesium may prevent period pain and premenstrual syndrome. I take Nature Made Magnesium every day.
  • B vitamins are used in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and may improve focus and concentration if fatigue is a primary symptom for you. I take Nature Made B-Complex every day.
    • Evidence: Study (small sample size)
  • Dong quai is an herb used to treat heavy periods in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has anti-inflammatory effects and has been used to treat dysmenorrhea. I like Moody Bird from HUM Nutrition, which combines dong quai with chaste berry, another traditional herb used to treat endometriosis.
  • Clary sage essential oil can relieve period cramps when rubbed into the pubic bone (mix with a carrier oil, like coconut, before applying to skin!)

Sexual Health Products

  • Slippery Stuff is my favorite lubricant. It is both paraben- and glycerin-free, helping reduce irritation and pain during sex.
  • Skyn Condoms are spermicide-free and non-latex, reducing the potential for irritation during sex. If you’re not in a long-term monogamous relationship, they’re a must for preventing the spread of STIs!
  • Zestra can improve low libido when applied to the clitoris 30 minutes prior to sex. The oil enhances sensation and blood flow to the clitoris.
  • Vitamin E oil reduces vaginal irritation when applied twice a day for at least two months, according to Amy Stein, author of Heal Pelvic Pain.

Wellness Products

  • Put an End to Your Endometriosis is an audio master class with Alisa Vitti, author of WomanCode, geared specially toward those of us with endo. Click here to purchase and download.
  • BKR makes glass water bottles that are both chic and functional. Switching to glass reduces your exposure to BPA, which has been linked to endometriosis and its symptoms. Click here to purchase the exact model I have.
  • Anthropologie’s Travel Yoga Mat folds up small enough to fit in almost any tote or suitcase, and is perfect for performing pelvic floor exercises on-the-go. Click here to purchase.
  • Yogi Tea’s Woman’s Raspberry Leaf contains pure raspberry leaf, an herbal remedy thought to ease the pain of menstruation and soothe the uterus. Click here to purchase on Amazon.

Want to join my FREE 7-Day Getting Endostrong e-course? Click here!

Health Update: Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Endometriosis & Chronic Pelvic Pain

Wow, what a whirlwind today has been! Today (as of writing this post), I just got home from an appointment at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Endometriosis & Chronic Pelvic Pain. Finally, I feel like I’ve found answers after nearly two years of searching for them.

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know that originally I was diagnosed with IBS. Yet something didn’t quite sit right with me about that diagnosis: I was eating low-FODMAP and doing everything right, but was still having symptoms. Plus, my symptoms worsened around my period.

Then I thought back on my history of painful periods and started to do some research into endometriosis. Every story I read from a woman with endo resonated with me, from having your pain dismissed to feeling like you’d tried everything to no avail. So, I made an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Endometriosis & Chronic Pelvic Pain here in Cleveland, where I met with Dr. Jessica Strasburg about my pain.

I have never felt more heard than when I stepped into the Center for Endometriosis & Chronic Pelvic Pain. After years of pain and suffering, Dr. Strasburg affirmed my suspicion of endometriosis. Here’s how my appointment went, and what’s next for me on my health journey as a woman with suspected endometriosis.

How My Appointment Went

My appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Endometriosis and Chronic Pelvic Pain began the way most appointments do: with a weigh-in, a blood pressure check and a lot of questions from the nurse on duty. Then, I was asked to undress from the waist-down (like at any gynecologist appointment) and met with Dr. Strasburg.

Unlike most of the doctors I’ve had, Dr. Strasburg spent about an hour with me asking questions and examining my body. We talked about my history of painful periods and my newly-onset acute pelvic pain. Then, she did an abdominal and pelvic exam, which was painful, but incredibly informative.

After all that, Dr. Strasburg concluded that I was probably right: I probably do have endometriosis on the back wall of my uterus and bowel. In addition, I also have a pelvic floor dysfunction and vulvodynia, which have compounded my pain and made it even more difficult to overcome.

What’s Next for Me

According to my doctor, diagnostic laparoscopy is in my future — but whether that will be my immediate future is up to me. As of right now, I do think I want to have the diagnostic laparoscopy because it is minimally invasive and will provide me the answers I’ve wanted for so long now. To me, peace of mind and reduced pain for years to come is well worth a few one-inch scars.

But before we can get to that, I’ll have to have an MRI at Cleveland Clinic’s Main Campus (at this point, nothing I’m not used to). As long as it’s covered by my insurance, I’ll have the MRI because the contrast may show some of my endometriosis on-screen.

I’ll also be visiting Cleveland Clinic’s specialized physical therapy clinic for pelvic pain to work on my pelvic floor dysfunction. According to Dr. Strasburg, some women still have pain even when their endo is removed because their pelvic floor is still guarding (a.k.a. tensing up to protect itself). So, I will need to start PT exercises in order to work on my chronic pelvic pain and vulvodynia.