We’re more than just the activewear we create. We’re passionate about bringing our community the education & awareness they need to be their most confident, empowered selves. That’s why we teamed up with the best experts & influencers for Health for Her - an entire week dedicated to highlighting all things women’s wellness and answering your women's health questions - so that everyone in our community (men included) can learn together, understand one another and create more awareness and less stigma around women's health.
ENDOMETRIOSIS & EXERCISE WITH ALANA VOGT
1 in 9 Australian women suffer from the chronic menstrual health disorder Endometriosis. With many common misconceptions, this debilitating disease is more than just period pains and bloating, it's an incurable condition that can cause full body pain, excessive bleeding and infertility in some cases. WBFF Pro Alana Vogt was only officially diagnosed with endometriosis 2 months ago, having managed her symptoms for 7 years prior. We spoke to Alana about how she balances her condition with her fitness goals, and how she's found comfort in creating awareness.
RW: Can you explain what Endometriosis is for those who haven’t heard of the condition?
AV: Endometriosis is a chronic condition where cells similar to those found in the lining of the uterus are found in other parts of the body, more commonly the pelvis and reproductive organs.
These endometrial cells found outside the uterus grow to form lesions that have the same cyclical/menstrual changes that occur in response to a woman's production of hormones. These lesions outside the uterus can’t pass out of your body which results in inflammation and scarring.
RW: How old were you when you were first diagnosed?
AV: Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose as the only way to confirm a diagnosis is to undergo a laparoscopy and have a biopsy taken. A laparoscopy is a surgical procedure performed under a general anesthetic where a thin telescope is placed into the belly button and allows for the surgeon to see inside your abdomen and assess your organs. This could be a contributing factor to why the average length of time to diagnosis of endometriosis is 7 years! I actually had this surgery 2 months ago where my surgeon confirmed his and my own suspicion of endometriosis at 32 years old.
RW: If you feel comfortable sharing, can you tell us about your personal journey with Endo? How has it impacted your life as well as your physical and mental health?
AV: Endometriosis is not just a ‘bad period’ and can have huge implications for a woman’s quality of life. Since the only way to confirm an endometriosis diagnosis is surgery, I have suspected for many years that I had endometriosis but did my best to manage my symptoms with medication rather than going down the surgical route.
My endometriosis has mainly affected my quality of life when it comes to experiencing heavy and painful periods. I am a very active person who loves working out and my endometriosis can make training very uncomfortable around the beginning of my period.
RW: What kind of treatments have you found helpful for managing your condition?
AV: When it comes to endometriosis, there are three main types of treatments: medical treatments (such as hormonal medications and pain-relieving medications), surgical options (such as excision and ablation) and complementary treatments (such as physiotherapy, psychology and complementary medicines). It’s important to note that none of these treatments are a cure for endometriosis. I have actually found regular exercise to be really beneficial in managing my pain, inflammation, mobility and mood. It’s still early days since my surgery but I have already noticed a reduction in my pain and have noticed I am not relying on pain-relieving medication as much.
RW: What are some common misconceptions you have come across when it comes to endometriosis? Do you think there needs to be more awareness around the condition?
AV: Great question! There are many misconceptions around endometriosis and absolutely bringing more awareness to endometriosis will help correct the misinformation out there as well as reduce the stigma associated with this condition.
Some common misconceptions that I’ve come across are
Endometriosis symptoms are just a ‘bad period’: False - severe pain affecting your daily activities and heavy bleeding during your period are not normal symptoms of menstruation.
Endometriosis is only found in the reproductive organs: False - endometriosis is commonly found in the pelvic area such as the outer surface of the uterus, fallopian tubes and bladder but can also be found on the bowel and many other areas.
Endometriosis treatments cure endometriosis: False - currently there is no cure for endometriosis. Treatments are targeted at reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life for endometriosis sufferers.
Endometriosis always makes you infertile: False - although there is a link between endometriosis and infertility, receiving an endometriosis diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean you are infertile. About 30-50% of endometriosis patients may experience infertility however half of those eventually go on to conceive with or without treatment.
RW: Our community has been inspired & motivated by the fitness content you’ve shared. What role has fitness and the gym played throughout your life? Do you have a specific outlook or approach to fitness?
AV: Health and fitness have played a massive role in my life for the past 8 years. I absolutely love the feeling I get from prioritising my health, training and nutrition. This lifestyle has also opened up many different opportunities for me that I didn’t think were possible and that I am incredibly grateful for, such as becoming a Ryderwear athlete! I’ve also had the opportunity to compete internationally as a WBFF Pro Bikini athlete.
My love of health and fitness has even resulted in switching career paths from being a registered pharmacist to becoming certified as a personal trainer. I am extremely passionate about empowering women to achieve their body composition goals while still eating the foods they love and teaching them how to train with purpose. My ultimate goal is to help women work towards a better relationship with food, exercise and their body which is my ‘why’ behind co-founding the female-specific online coaching business - Find Your Balance!
My approach to health and fitness is quite simple. I have ingrained many daily habits into my lifestyle that support my goals. I follow a flexible dieting approach when it comes to my nutrition which allows me to eat all my favourite foods, not feel restricted or deprived and I’m able to eat meals out while still staying on track with my goals. I also really enjoy resistance training so it doesn’t feel like a chore at all to get a few training sessions done each week. I am a firm believer in creating a lifestyle around your goals so it’s much easier to achieve them!
RW: Do you have any words of motivation or encouragement for those reading this who might be experiencing their own journey with endometriosis?
AV: Living with a chronic illness is challenging and I know it can be hard to see the light when you feel trapped in a body with a painful illness.
Here are some practical tips to help with your mindset:
01. Explain your diagnosis if you feel comfortable with those people who are closest to you. By knowing what you are going through, your loved ones will be in a better position to provide physical and emotional support to you.
02. Be a part of a supportive community/FB group with other endometriosis sufferers who understand what you are going through.
03. Prioritise self-care - make sure you are still incorporating things you love doing into your daily routine where possible.
04. If you are feeling up to it, get active! Not only may exercise help with pain and inflammation, it can also help boost your mood.
05. Be kind to yourself and stop comparing your journey to someone else’s - there will be days you can’t do much and that’s completely fine.
RW: Do you have any favourite Ryderwear pieces or collections?
AV: NKD hands down is my favourite Ryderwear collection to date! The butter-soft material, the flattering fit, the colours - love it!
Disclaimer, if you believe to be suffering the symptoms of endometriosis please seek out medical advice from your healthcare professional. Symptoms and treatments may vary from patient to patient.
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