How can I support my girlfriend?

I have just started going out with an amazing girl who I really want to support as much as I can with endometriosis. She has had an operation a few years ago but at a certain time of the month she has told me that she gets severe and sometimes debilitating pain. From reading the facts I know I can't really help with the pain but can you give me any advice as how I can support her both at those times and in general with this. I'll do anything I can

4 Replies

  • Hiya, I really feel your girlfriends pain!! My loving husband does so much for me, giving her as much time to rest is the best thing as sometimes it can be worse with moving! I have a heat pad that u put in the microwave I use which really does help, my husband buys me a new one every few months as you can get all different type last one was a tiger one, which made me smile and takes my mind of it for a bit! And keeping occupied is always good! DVD nights or days when she is bad and a take away or home cooked meal!! And just be there as much as you can!! Hope she gets sorted soon :)

  • My advice for what it's worth is have lots of 'patience', if she wants or needs to be alone, don't be insulted, it's not personal against you, it's just that sometimes the pain is really intense, even with pain killers and it's exhausting having to do anything, plus the pain killers too can make you really lethargic and dopey. Rest and sleep at weird hours of the day as well as night, are needed. So if she's not up to socialising, or events that you have booked or bought tickets for, please don't push her in to doing something that she really isn't up to coping with. If she can manage to go out, I'm sure she will. Otherwise watch a movie curled up on the sofa or in bed is going to score high marks. Distractions that don't use up energy and effort are always good.

    As jayden said, preparing meals or getting a takeaway and doing washing up for her on bad days will certainly endear you to her. Just standing up in the kitchen to do basics can be incredibly painful when in the full throws of a painful endo episode.

    but don't over do it (household chores wise) and make her feel even more guilty that she can't manage to do things for herself at that time. Unless you do particular chores the rest of the time too it looks too obvious if the only time you do these things is when she is not well and that adds to the guilt she will feel for being not up to it anyway.

    A gentle tummy massage of the lower tummy can be a wonderfully soothing experience, if she has cramping pain,

    e.g. place WARM hand across the space between one hip bone and the other,

    with the side of your hand lined up with the jutting out hip bones, so your hand covers the ovaries and womb area.

    Just gentle rocking a hand over that bit of the tummy back and forth or side to side rocking

    or round like press down fingers, then side of hand, then wrist, other side of hand in a circle motion a few times then reverse the direction of motion).so long as you are absolutely not looking to take it further if you know what I mean.

    A vigorous massage of the tummy is actually going to injure and cause more endo problems and prolong the bleeding and probably encourage more adhesions to grow, so don't bother getting all technical with a Thai or Turkish Massage or anything fancy you might read about in books or online. Just very slow deliberate movements pressing down in to the lower tummy will help keep the muscles from cramping too much.

    Can be done directly on the skin or over clothes.

    Cuddles and Hugs are also usually welcome, so long as that is as far it goes when she's in lots of discomfort, be content that you're helping her a lot, just by being there and a cuddle without expectations of anything more is 10/10 in the being supportive stakes.

    Or a foot massage or shoulder or back massage to distract from pain elsewhere can be a good idea too. Or if she has shoulder length or longer hair, something as simple as brushing her hair or running your fingers through her hair like you are combing it by hand, can act as a pain distraction.

    Othertimes the pain is very tender and sore and massaging it is not going to be the best idea.

    Hot aromatherapy baths can be great for relaxing, but if she's having a heavy bleed that might be the last thing she wants.

    Communication is essential. If you're not sure what she wants or doesn't, then ask but don't demand answers.

    If she feels the need to nap or sleep, have some consideration, keep the tv noise down, don't start hoovering the house or having rowdy friends over.

    Do NOT keep asking how she is feeling - she will feel like crap, she knows it, you know it, and yet she'll probably still say she's okay. It's what all women do instinctively.

    So if you are texting her or calling her, the 'How are you?' questions should be kept to an absolute minimum. Best avoided if possible, or put some imagination and humour in to it. e.g."Scale of 1 to 10, what's today's score?"

    When i'm going through a bad spell, to be honest i don't want to do much if anything. I just need time and space, pain relief and sleep to get through it till it's over enough that I can get back to 'normal' activities. I don't need other people fussing over me all the time, that uses up my precious energy resources, I don't need a guilt trip or snide jokes if i'm late or forgotten to do something, I just need understanding. If the shopping hasn't been done, or the laundry hasn't been ironed so what ! it will get done eventually.

    If I say I'm not up to going out then just leave me be. No big deal, I don't stop others going out and enjoying themselves, and for me, I'd rather they were out of the way to be honest, and leave me in peace and quiet most of the time.

    Some ladies might prefer to keep their chaps at home, and some chaps might prefer to stay at home.

    I'm sure your girlfriend probably has a routine she is used to, for times when it's bad, it's just one of those things that we have to get through and get used to. It's hard on both partners in their own way.

    You sound like a very caring chap, and she's lucky to have someone willing to be so supportive from the start. I wish you both all the best.

  • Never take anything personally - she might lash out at you, but only because you're there and she's in pain. She might want you to stay with her but not in the bedroom - it's not that she doesn't want a cuddle, she probably does when this pain buggers off, but at the moment she needs to be in a position that allows her to thrash around the bed to try and get comfortable. Be downstairs watching the telly, and ready to refill the hot water bottle as and when necessary.

    And try and maintain a (gentle) sense of humour about the whole thing - my endo has a name (unrepeatable on here!) and my husband and I refer to it in the third person.

    And know that although the pain might be worst at that time of the month, this is a 24/7, 365 days a year disease. I know it's slightly different but if I have to cancel a family engagement outside of every fourth week, my mum guilt trips me to hell and back. Unintentionally, but no amount of telling her that this disease plays to its own rules seems to go in. Which leads me on to something else - never say to your girlfriend "You might feel better if you make yourself go out". She won't. This isn't psychological, a bit of fresh air won't help anything. That being said, if she wants to try, then let her; just be ready to turn the car around before you even reach the party.

    In fact, that's probably the most important thing; know that endometriosis has its own rules and expect the unexpected.

    Other than that though, just by coming here and asking, you're more than halfway there, and it sounds as if she's very lucky to have you. But obviously never, ever throw that at her...

    Good luck to both of you, and you know where we are if you need us

    C x

  • Reading your post has made me want to write my first response on this site. One of the biggest most important things that gets me through the "special" time of the month when the pain is indescribable is my husband. We had been together a year when I was diagnosed (10yrs ago now) and so he has seen the gradual increase in pain, the zommbied me and the thoroughly depressed me. What he has done however is to never push me - he now knows when my bad time of the month is coming up and will make a trip to the shops to buy a bag of ready salted crisps (to help when I am nausious), a packet of rich tea biscuits (the ONLY thing I can nibble on) and a bottle of lemonade (I can not sip anything else for those 2-3 bad days). The pain always starts at 4am - when I wake up he wakes up straight away grabs the hot water bottle and brings it to me. I think what helps is having some (albeit very odd) a normal routine to follow when the pain kicks in. He knows more or less how I will be, he knows what he can do and so does it without being asked or reminded. Find out from your girlfriend if there is anything that gives her even the slightest comfort (rich tea bisuits even) and just make sure she has it ready. I know I am extremely lucky to have such amazing support - it really does help. I wish you both the best.

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