11 Feb Endometriosis: What’s actually going on?
You’re dealing with:
- Heavy or irregular periods, which could be accompanied by excessive clots
- Menstrual pain – which might be excruciating
- Painful sex (a whole lot of fun that is)
- Nausea & fatigue
- Pain when you pee and/or poop
- Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhoea & bloating)
- The prospect of potential infertility
So it’s no wonder you’re hoping the world would end. Soon. Like yesterday.
The above symptoms are very typical of endometriosis – and they can occur at any time of the month.
A painful, chronic disease that affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK. It’s when the tissue that lines the womb (called the endometrium) migrates outside the uterus to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder and sometimes far out places, like the nose, armpit, knee, lung or heart (although these are less common).
Even though the endometrial tissue is elsewhere it still acts as it would in the uterus – it responds to the natural hormone cycle by thickening, breaking down and bleeding every time there’s a period. The thing is, this displaced tissue has no way to exit the body. It’s trapped. Eventually, this leads to the development of scar tissues & adhesions – and THIS is what causes that excruciating pain.
How do you know if you’ve got Endometriosis?
Signs & symptoms offer clues. But confirmation of the disease is through diagnostic testing, including an abdominal ultrasound, CT Scan, MRI or laparoscopy. (A laparoscopy is a surgery whereby a thin, lit tube is put through a small incision in the belly. This allows a physician to have a good look at abdominal & female organs. Tissue samples can also be taken for biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.)
What Causes Endometriosis?
Although it is unclear, a combination of factors such as:
may all contribute to triggering endometriosis.
Is There Hope?
Yes! But before making things Kardashian complicated, let’s begin with some basic natural approaches:
Ditch the Dairy & Get Rid of the Gluten
These may both contribute to the inflammatory process in the body. And when endometriosis is an inflammatory condition, we really want to reduce inflammation as much as possible. One study demonstrated an improvement in symptoms in 75% of endometriosis-suffers on a 12 month GF diet. Implementing this often requires a fair amount of support – I’m here!
Include Anti-inflammatory Foods
We’re talking all things turmeric, wild caught oily fish and anti-oxidant packed foods such as berries, artichokes, apples (Red Delicious, Gala & even the good ol’ Granny Smith) and beans (Red Kidney, Pinto & Black).
Nip Stress in the Bud
Meditation is magnificent for mental stress – and I’d recommend giving Headspace a go. But we also need to address lifestyle stress (not enough sleep, smoking, over-exercising etc) & dietary stress (processed foods, excess sugar, knocking back the alcohol etc) as well.
End Oestrogen Exposure
Many women with endometriosis often have higher levels of oestrogen. Cutting out plastic containers & water bottles and by swapping cosmetics and household cleaning products for more natural alternatives can be really helpful in reducing exposure. And on the food front? Ensure all meats, eggs & butter are organic/grass fed or wild caught. Remember – you are not only what you eat but what THEY eat too.
This is where lab testing can be super handy. As part of my services, I’m able to offer preferential rates to my clients for certain tests through some of the most advanced private labs. Not only does this save you some moola, but it also helps us detect possible nutrient deficiencies. For example, zinc has been demonstrated to be deficient in endometriosis-suffers. And when zinc is a key anti-inflammatory nutrient which assists in the repair of intestinal permeability (thereby improving autoimmunity), we need to know when it’s low.
The above are simply starting points. There are various other approaches that can be helpful too.
Give it Some Time
Nothing is going to disappear over night. Addressing endometriosis in this way can take time & commitment. But you know what it also does? Allows you to live into that hope. You’ve got this. And if you need some support? I’m here – let’s chat.
Many thanks to Dr Lara Briden who’s own work inspired this post.