The first ever specialised Endometriosis retreat took place in March, giving women expert advice, education and support to feel empowered about the future.
Michaela Regan, 34, welcomed 15 women to Waterwynch House in Tenby, Wales, between the 27th and 31st of March for the first ever luxury, all inclusive, specialised Endometriosis retreat. “I’m really passionate about spreading empowerment and helping people feel more in control”, Michaela said. “Endometriosis patients are always going to feel let down by the medical profession; they’ll never have enough time or staff or funding, so we have to look at what we can do for ourselves.” The retreat was hosted by Hold, founded by Michaela in July 2022, which aims to address mind, body and soul through these specialised retreats.
“For me I love learning about things, I feel knowledge is power. If something is daunting, the more you learn about it, the less scary it gets”, Michaela explained. She wanted to help women understand their Endometriosis symptoms and give them as many options as possible to manage pain and gain control. The retreat included talks from experts such as an excision surgeon, specialised nurse, Endometriosis nutritionalist, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, a rapid transformation therapist and many more. “How often do you get four hours with a surgeon and a specialised nurse? He spent so much time with us, answering things so well and explaining everything" Michaela said.
For the body, the retreat offered wild swimming, yoga sessions, massages and acupuncture to revitalise and inspire. However, it was the soul aspect, in the form of community building, which became such an important part of the long-weekend. “The community was something I wanted but I didn’t realise how big of a thing it would be”, Michaela explained. “Yes, they got a lot out of the speakers and all we had planned but they got so much out of each other.”
The medical profession has failed to create a safe, validating experience for women with Endometriosis so, during this retreat, these women took control and gave that support to each other. “There was a lot of talk about symptoms such as painful sex and there was one girl who didn’t realise that was a symptom”, said Michaela. “When she did, she broke down because it’s been ruining her relationships and she didn’t realise it’s about Endometriosis. Once she started talking to the other girls about it she’s left the retreat with a whole new perspective on how to deal with it.”
Michaela was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2020 after a 15 year journey of painful symptoms. Endometriosis is a chronic condition whereby cells similar to the lining of the womb start to grow in other parts of the body for example the bladder or bowels. It affects 1 in 10 women and the WHO estimates that 190 million women suffer from Endometriosis worldwide.
In July 2022, after having 2 surgeries, Michaela was looking for a specialised Endometriosis retreat but as she could only find yoga weekends, she decided to host one herself. “The ethos of the retreat is that, life is amazing no matter if you have chronic illness or not so, as much as you might wish to not have Endometriosis, you do, and it’s all about how we deal with it.”
When Michaela searched for support after her diagnosis she found online communities to be very negative and only show the bad days. She said the retreat went “so much better than I could have hoped” and that was all because the women who came were ready to leave the negative attitude behind and feel "positive and powerful.”
The retreat has even changed Michaela’s own perspective on having Endometriosis. “Before the retreat I was really overwhelmed that I would be heading back for surgery", she explained. "But since the retreat I’ve found peace, there’s so much I can do to make things better and I will have to have surgery but it’s not the end of the world, I’ll recover and now I have ways to make that time even longer between surgeries.”
Hold has just launched another specialised Endometriosis and PCOS retreat in September 2023 and in March 2024. “I had so much joy seeing everyone have these life changing experiences on the last one I thought ‘this is what makes me feel good, let’s keep doing it’” Michaela said.
As Endometriosis has no cure or reliable treatment, the discussion always needs to be open to new methods, new attitudes and new approaches. Michaela is giving women an opportunity to explore what Endometriosis really is and what it means for them personally. While building a community of like-minded women, experts and professionals who are dedicated to giving these women the support they didn’t have through diagnosis.
“The energy in that retreat was contagious and unbelievable, there is so much we can do to change things, we are in control of ourselves and I think we forget that sometimes” said Michaela.
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