health

"The pain was excruciating." Angie Kent on her experience of living with endometriosis.

We’re calling it. Angie Kent is the best Bachelorette Australia has had yet.

Not (just) because she’s hilarious and a bit weird and has told many of her badly behaved suitors on the reality TV series to jog on, but because the 29-year-old’s completely unfiltered openness is the breath of fresh air the Bach franchise needed.

Previously, Angie has spoken candidly about being single for most of her adult life, her struggle with letting people in, and her experience with an eating disorder that consumed her for years.

You can check out our super fan interview with Angie Kent in the video below. Warning, it’s hilarious. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

Now, Mamamia can exclusively share that in Wednesday night’s episode, she will also touch on the health condition she shares with one in every 10 women: endometriosis.

Why? Because as the 758,000-plus Aussie women living with the debilitating symptoms of the chronic illness know, women with endo can find it harder to fall pregnant. Add to that the helpful ticking biological clock all of us have in the back of our minds and trying to fall in love with someone in a matter of months on national TV, and the whole ‘settling down thing’ becomes a touch more complicated.

Speaking to Mamamia ahead of Wednesday night’s episode of The Bachelorette, Angie said endo has impacted almost every aspect of her life. She was diagnosed in 2016, but had been putting up with not only the pain, but also the negative emotional and social impacts of endo, since her last few years of high school.

“My symptoms were pretty hardcore. My period was really bad from high school but it got worse as I got older, it started to get really bad in my early twenties. The main thing is I’d feel like a crazy person every single month for the three days leading up to my period, and then the pain increased during,” Angie told Mamamia.

“I’d not have a period for ages or just bleed for months on end. It got to a point where I thought ‘I can’t live life like this’. It was so debilitating, the pain was excruciating. It was unbearable, I wouldn’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes I’d keep bleeding and bleeding and bleeding, and wondering when it was going to stop.”

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This was all happening during the time in Angie’s life when you’re meant to be out having lots of fun and dating. But during many of the eight years she was single prior to becoming the Bachelorette, Angie said her condition made sex “really painful”.

“With sex being painful, I was thinking, well this isn’t fun for me, what’s wrong with my body? I would bloat so much leading up to my period, to the point where I’d gain three to four kilos, and when you’re bleeding all the time and in that much pain, how are you meant to feel good about yourself? And I had doctors ask if something had happened to me as I couldn’t even do pap smears because it hurt so much.”

Angie spoke more about life before The Bachelorette with Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast, get it in your ears below. Post continues after audio.

Before the GP appointment that led to her eventual endo diagnosis, the physical symptoms of her condition also affected her mental health.

“Sometimes, still now, if I’m stressed, I will bleed the entire month. You get depressed. I wouldn’t want to get out of bed… when you’re not feeling good down there, it can affect everything. And the severe depression and anxiety I was getting from the thought of it coming was awful.”

“Even though I had symptoms for ages, it was hard to tell what was wrong because I’m also coeliac and was so bad to my body for so long having an eating disorder that I just thought any pain or problems were from not treating myself right.

“Being diagnosed with endo answered so many questions as I hadn’t heard anything about it.”

Angie had a laparoscopy (a keyhole procedure where a surgeon can inspect inside the abdomen by inserting a viewing instrument through an incision made in the belly button) in 2016 to remove her endometriosis. For her, the “fear alone of having [surgery] through the belly button was intense” because Angie has Omphalophobia, a fear of belly buttons.

For now, she manages her symptoms through her diet and not drinking alcohol – “I can tell when I haven’t been eating right or have been drinking too much, the pain is unbearable” – but said she is probably due for more surgery.

Angie’s at the stage now where she wants to do more about it, because of how endometriosis could affect her ability to conceive in the future.

According to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 30 to 50 per cent of patients with endometriosis will experience infertility in some way. This is why Angie’s always been honest with partners about the fact she does want kids. Not today, but someday.

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“I’ve never overly worried about having a boyfriend by a certain age, I’m a big believer in universal timing, but when it comes to fertility having endometriosis, that’s my only real clock.”

“I have been very honest with partners that I do want kids, that it would have to be in the next five years. That would be a big game changer if they didn’t, or if they wanted them now.

“I’m 30 soon and I don’t want babies anytime soon, but I want to start [getting on top of my symptoms] now. I don’t want to wait to get to the time when I want to have a baby because it could be a struggle. But it’s more for me just to know and be aware of, not manifest it.”

For any woman who might be experiencing similar symptoms or has previously been told their pain is ‘just their period’ (Angie said she especially hates when this sentiment comes from men that have no idea what ‘that time of the month’ is actually like), her advice is to educate yourself and talk about it.

“After I was diagnosed was when people would say ‘oh I have that’. I then realised way more women have it but just don’t talk about it. But now we are.”

You can watch Angie speak about her experience with endometriosis on The Bachelorette on Wednesday October 30 at 7:30pm on Network 10.

For more information and resources on endo, visit www.endometriosisaustralia.org or endoactive.org.au/. If this post has raised any issues for you, please can call Lifeline on 13 11 14

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