Proctalgia fugax is rarely talked about however the excruciating pain in the ‘butt area’ could be a symptom of endometriosis as highlighted in this article.
In September 2022 Melan Magazine contributor Maxine Harrison was diagnosed with endometriosis. Her diagnosis came a decade after she first started her menstruation cycles. She recently put a name to the severe pain she regularly experiences as part of her endometriosis symptoms (Proctalgia fugax) and shares her story along with the pain relief options she has explored.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a reproductive disease concerning the ovaries. The NHS website defines it as: “A condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.” The medical condition can affect women at any age, including teenagers. Endometriosis symptoms can vary from person to person. But symptoms can include abdominal or back pain, difficulty getting pregnant, period pain preventing you from doing everyday activities and heavy periods.
As with many woman health issues, endometriosis is not often spoken about so it is refreshing to see Jamie Foxx’s daughter, Corinne Foxx highlighting the health condition that affects up to 200 million women worldwide in her upcoming documentary, Below The Belt set to be released in 2023.
My silent pain: Living with Endometriosis and coping with the condition
Jamie Foxx praised his daughter for acting as an executive producer on the reposted Instagram video that talked about her journey with the disease. Corinne has previously spoken about her difficulties identifying the health condition. Speaking to Hello Giggles, she said: “I was told by so many doctors that I was making it up in my head, that it wasn’t real, or that it was something it wasn’t, like bladder cancer.”
Sadly, Corinne’s experience is not unique, too many women struggle to get a correct endometriosis diagnosis.
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Endometriosis – diagnosis disparity
Endometriosis is often labelled as a white women’s disease. This can contribute to the delayed diagnosis of the condition in Black Women. A 2020 UK survey investigating those diagnosed with endometriosis, showed that 82% identified as white, whilst only 5% identified as Black. These stats likely hint at the disparity in diagnosis for Black women. Up to 64% of Black people do not believe that their health is as protected by the NHS compared to their white counterparts.
Since starting my period as a teenager, I have had heavy periods lasting on average seven days. From my early days of starting my period, I have experienced particularly excruciating pain. And when describing this pain to others over the years, no one could relate.
My proctalgia fugax symptoms
Now, this may seem explicit, but in the hope of helping someone else who can relate, I feel it’s necessary to describe this pain, so they feel less alone and are encouraged to speak to a doctor. The best way I can describe this pain, is that it’s as if I am sitting upward on a butcher’s knife that is routinely stabbing me in my bowel area! For me, the stabbing pain, so to speak, lasts a few seconds and then disappears, but reappears a few minutes later. It continues in this fashion for hours.
My failed search to find someone who could relate to my pain, led me to spontaneously Google search in the hope of finding an explanation, for years at a time. I even searched into what endometriosis was at one point hoping to find this pain listed as a symptom. But for years, my search came to a dead end. Until this year.
“proctalgia fugax.. often referred to by sufferers as a “stabbing or shooting pain in the butt” “
Earlier this year someone suggested I look into endometriosis again. And although my previous search landed with no hope, I decided to still give looking into this another try. This time, my search took me to TikTok. It was here that I finally found a video that described the pain I was experiencing and its official name – proctalgia fugax. Often referred to by sufferers as a “stabbing or shooting pain in the butt”, the video reveals a girl re-enacting pain from this experience. And boy, could I relate. And it turns out I wasn’t the only one either.
The video went viral, prompting doctors to make TikTok videos further explaining this pain. Through this, I came across another video, but this time from a gynaecologist surgeon. She suggested that proctalgia fugax could be related to endometriosis symptoms. This is because the area in which the pain occurs is also a common area in which endometriosis grows. Feeling validated, this final push led me to bring up my pain to the doctor. After just two consultations I was diagnosed with endometriosis.
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Pain relief for endometriosis
To help deal with my proctalgia fugax symptoms Ibuprofen usually goes a significant way towards reducing my period pain. I am thankful that I at least have that. Many women struggle to find any form of pain relief.
However, as someone who prefers natural resources and since there is no endometriosis cure, I am always searching for drug-free pain relief. In a Channel 5 documentary called Women’s Health, Breaking the Taboos, which shed light on endometriosis and drug-free pain relief alternatives, they mentioned using a TENS machine. I tried this out but unfortunately, it was not effective enough. I had to revert to using my usual Ibuprofen to more effectively reduce the pain I felt. I am still in search of a drug-free effective pain relief but for now, I’ll have to stick with Ibuprofen.
“I hope my story encourages you to speak to a doctor.”
If you suspect you may have endometriosis and can relate to the proctalgia fugax symptoms I described, I hope my story encourages you to speak to a doctor. Even if it takes longer to get diagnosed, validation and suggestions for treatment could help relieve your symptoms.