Men and women often engage in the playful jest about what is more painful – a full-frontal, strong-swinged kick to the nuts without warning, or giving birth. While many will insist that a testicular blow is far more painful than childbirth, any mother – and those that have been inside a delivery room – will beg to differ.
However, on a more serious note, there's another thing women can be confronted with in life that has been described as more painful tenfold than childbirth. What's more, it's a condition many women have to live with for decades, often up until menopause. It's called adenomyosis, and it's an extremely painful condition that not many people have heard of.
Not to be mistaken with endometriosis, BBC recently shared a video about the condition, in which one woman described the pain from adenomyosis as "10 times worse than childbirth". Alarmingly, about one in 10 women suffers from it, though many go undiagnosed. They themselves write off the symptoms as period-related, with many doctors doing the same or misdiagnosing completely and having "no idea" what the condition even was.
While it's rare in the sense that not many people have heard of it, millions of women around the world are affected by adenomyosis. Becuase it's difficult to diagnose, and nearly impossible to fully cure without a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus), many women can feel isolated by the relatively unknown, painful condition.
However, thanks to online forums like Facebook groups and Reddit threads, women are able to share their experiences, ask for advice and support others going through similar experiences.
"I have been suffering with; pains, fatigue, tired all the time, overweight, excessive bleeding," one woman shared on Reddit, while another described how she was rushed to hospital: "I went to the ER for severe menstrual cramps. I literally wanted to stab my uterus and pull it out".
"For me, adeno is intense pain around my period, my uterus often feels hard and heavy like I have a stone in my abdomen, and super heavy periods with insanely large clots," said one woman on Reddit. She said that symptoms can vary for many women, and that "The only way adeno can truly be diagnosed is biopsy."
"There are things that can be done to help with pain if you have interest in children, but the only true cure is a hysterectomy," she went on. While there are a few ways to treat symptoms, removing the uterus is the only way to treat adenomyosis properly, as the condition is caused by extra tissue grown on the uterine wall.
As well as heavy, long periods and intense cramps that can feel more painful than childbirth, the condition can affect mood and libido. One young woman shared the "frustration" she felt about her lack of "intimacy" she associated with the condition, which often makes sex painful.
"I'm a 22 yr old girl and recently I've been diagnosed with adeno," she wrote, explaining how she had recently been diagnosed after suffering from the symptoms for a year. But even after her doctor's recommendations, things haven't been the same for her romantic life: "I have this boyfriend since the very beginning, 1 yr and 5 months or so, and I thought by this time we could be having again some intimacy in our lives."
It's a difficult condition to live with, and increased awareness and improved understanding of adenomyosis could help many women in the future.