Over the past few weeks I have seen a few clients who’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis or have had several signs showing that they could potentially have it. This led to the inspiration of today’s blog post.
I think that education about these female reproductive related conditions needs to be taught so that we become aware of what is normal and what is not. Too often, menstrual pain is fobbed off as normal… Guess what?! Painful menstruation is NOT normal and there is lots we can do about it!
Over the past few weeks I have seen a few patients who’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis or had several signs showing that they could potentially have it. This led to the inspiration of today’s blog post.
I think that education about these female related conditions needs to be taught so that we become aware of what is normal and what is not. Too often, menstrual pain is fobbed off as normal… Guess what?! Painful menstruation is NOT normal and there is lots we can do about it!
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a female reproductive condition, where tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus presents itself outside of the uterus and sometimes on other organs of the body, quite commonly the bowel. It leads to a lot of pain, especially in menstruation and can lead to infertility. Although this condition is not caused by hormonal imbalance, hormonal imbalance is associated with the condition and can worsen the symptoms.
Leah Hechtman’s description of endometriosis is nicely stated (in her book; Clinical Naturopathic Medicine), In a language easy to understand. “Endometriosis occurs when pieces of the womb lining are found outside of the womb. These pieces behave as they would inside the womb, growing during the menstrual cycle in response to oestrogen in anticipation of an egg being fertilized and shedding as blood when there is no pregnancy”. Because this occurs outside of the womb and unable to leave the body with menstruation, symptoms occur.
Diagnosis is usually made after a laparoscopy surgery and is classified in stages, based on the tissue findings and not upon the severity of the woman’s symptoms.
There is no specific cause for endometriosis but there are thought to be; environmental, genetic, immunological and other factors associated with the onset of the condition.
Some of the signs and symptoms of endometriosis include, but are not limited to;
- Pain that affects your daily happening’s upon or around the time of menstruation
- Pain with bowel movements
- Frequent urination
- Pain in your legs, lower back or pelvic region
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain on ovulation
- Heavy periods
- Irregular periods
What is the best treatment for endometriosis?
There are various treatment methods for endometriosis, however some may work well for one person but not provide any relief for another. It’s important to know all of your options and the risks or side effects involved. A woman may need a combination of treatments for best results.
What can I do about it?
Conventional treatments involve various types of surgeries and hormonal or pain relieving medications that can be very helpful in improving quality of life and reduction in symptoms, however there is no cure of endometriosis and even after surgery it may grow back. It is important to learn all of the options available, their risks and potential adverse effects. It is best to talk to your specialist or GP in regard to what might be the best option for you.
- Some practitioners have found that the elimination of dairy and gluten helps significantly. Gluten and dairy containing foods can be especially inflammatory as they stimulate the release of inflammatory cytokines. Inflammation leads to pain and further discomfort, as well as inhibiting progress, as the inflammatory mediators continue to be released.
- Antioxidant rich foods (vitamin A, C and E). Oxidative stress is common in endometriosis and can contribute to further inflammation and pain. Antioxidants help to fight against oxidative stress and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Omega 3 fatty acids. Reduce inflammation and diets high in omega 3’s have been shown to reduce the risk of endometriosis by up to 22%.
- Reduce or avoid; sugar, soy, caffeine and alcohol. These foods or substances are pro-inflammatory and can increase the risk of infertility when consumed regularly in the diet.
N-acetyl cysteine- Natural anti-inflammatory and liver detoxification support. Studies have shown significant results in women with endometriosis who have supplemented with NAC. (Briden, L).
Zinc- Vital for reducing oxidative stress, anti-inflammatory and plays a pivotal role in immune regulation. (There are recent studies associating immune dysfunction with endometriosis and whether it may be considered an auto-immune condition).
B- Complex: Vital for efficient liver detoxification- keep in mind the liver is responsible for eliminating excess hormones and high levels of oestrogen are often identified in endometriosis patients.
Turmeric “Has been shown to reduce the size and activity of endometriosis lesions.” (Briden, L.)
Cramp Bark Helps to relieve muscular cramping which is a occurs in painful menstruation.
Shatavari Can be very beneficial where there is oestrogen excess.
Vitex Helps to regulate oestrogen: progesterone balance and can be helpful in regulating the menstrual cycle.
If you are wanting to try natural alternatives in helping to manage endometriosis symptoms and the severity of symptoms, contact a health care practitioner like myself to help you with appropriate supplementation in the correct dosages and forms suited for your requirements.
Endometriosis Australia is a wonderful website with a lot of useful information about endometriosis if you are wanting to learn more.
If you have a few of the above signs and symptoms, it’s important you investigate further and talk to your health provider about your symptoms.
Briden, L (© 2019) Lara Briden- The Period Revolutionary. Endometriosis- 5 natural treatments that really work. Retrieved from https://www.larabriden.com/endometriosis-natural-treatments-really-work/
Endometriosis Australia (© 2018) About Endometriosis. Retrieved from https://www.endometriosisaustralia.org/about-endometriosis
Hechtman, L (2014) Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Chatswood, NSW, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier