Do you or does someone in your family suffer from Endometriosis? You are not alone!
Endometriosis occurs in 4-10% of all women
I come from a family where it was not unusual to see my mother spend days in terrible pain, barely even able to speak, while carrying on with everyday duties. Extremely painful periods, flooding and PMS were considered normal and just the way it was. My grandmother, mother and aunty all suffered from this disorder and had full hysterectomies in their late 30’s early 40’s. Nowadays there is more information out there and this radical surgery is not necessarily the only option.
How Does Endo Occur?
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial growths develop on the ovaries, the tubes, and the outer wall of the uterus, the uterine or ovarian ligaments, the bowel, the ureters or the bladder. Incidence occurs in 4-10% of all women, 25-50% of women with infertility, 5-25% of women with pelvic masses. The true incidence of the general public is unknown as diagnosis is based on surgical visualisation.
Factors That Could Increase Chances Of Endo
Almost all women who develop endometriosis do so during times in their lives when they are producing oestrogen and regularly menstruating although there are other risk factors involved including:
• Genetic factors – an immediate family member, either mother or sister, is 7 times more likely to have the condition
• Menstrual factors – early menarche, long and heavy periods
• Exercise – strenuous physical activity during menstruation has an increased risk although this could be related to retrograde flow
• Type of contraception used – The use of the IUD has been associated with increased risk
• Alcohol – Studies have shown alcohol consumption was higher in women with endometriosis and a decreased fertility rate
• Abnormal bowel flora – Changes in normal bowel flora may cause intestinal inflammation precipitated by endometriosis
• Sex while menstruating – There is an increased rate of endometriosis in women who had intercourse during their period
• Environmental Factors – dioxin, DDT and other substances have been implicated in endometriosis
The signs and symptoms of Endometriosis
Cyclic pain that accompanies bleeding at time of menstruation (can involve the bladder, bowel, or rarely, bleeding at uncommon sites such as the umbilicus, abdominal wall, perineum, lung or brain)
- Dysmenorrhea - Premenstrual spotting
- Menorrhagia - Menstrual spotting post intercourse - Infertility - Hot flushes prior to menstruation - Hot flushes at ovulation - Hot flushes at conception and/or implantation - Vaginal thrush - Urinary tract infections
- Nausea - Abdominal bloating
- Flatulence - Diarrhoea (especially with menses)
- Constipation (especially premenstrual) - Mittleschmertz (pain on ovulation)
- Vomiting - Headaches
- Chronic fatigue - Fainting
- Dizzy spells - Depression, anxiety
- Pain in legs and thighs - Back pain
- Hypoglycaemia - Anaemia
- Heavy or long uncontrollable menstrual period with small or large clots
- Chronic pelvic pain Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse)
Suggestive signs and symptoms as noted above
Pelvic examination performed by a GP or gynaecologist
Laparoscopy is the only way a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis can be absolutely confirmed.
The medical approach to treating endometriosis usually involves surgery where the endometrial lesions or cysts are removed. In one study 62.5% of women reported reduced or resolved levels or pain following surgery, however surgical treatment of endometriosis will not necessarily increase fertility.
The natural therapist approach to treating endometriosis involves assessing the individual patient and recommending a treatment plan that will improve oestrogen excess, immune system irregularities, regulate prostaglandin synthesis, ensure uterine function and menstrual flow, and when appropriate, improve fertility.
A comprehensive treatment plan utilising laboratory diagnostic testing, herbal formulas and diet and lifestyle factor are all included in your treatment plan to ensure you are receiving the best possible care. Herbs can be very effective in treating endometriosis. Individual prescriptions are advised depending on the severity and type of symptoms occurring.
9 Self Care Guidelines
Diet and lifestyle factors play an important role in treating endometriosis. You can help to reset the balance of oestrogen dominance by following a few general dietary guidelines:
Maintain a healthy weight; lose weight if necessary, androgens in fat tissue can be converted into oestrogen that increase the total level of oestrogen in the body.
Reduce exposure to environmental oestrogen (e.g. pesticides) eat organic whenever possible.
Exercise regularly as this helps the body to excrete excess oestrogen.
Consume an anti-inflammatory diet including turmeric, ginger, raw,fresh nuts and seeds, oil fish, cold pressed oils and antioxidant rich foods.
Include Brassica Vegetables – 2 serves per day
1-3 tablespoons of flaxseed every day (flaxseed is oestrogen modulating, anti-inflammatory, soluble dietary fibre and prevents toxic reabsorption from the bowel).
Adopting a lifestyle which balances work and relaxation
Make sure of a good reliable professional back up. Endometriosis is a complex disorder and too complicated to be taken on alone.