In the spirit of Endometriosis Awareness Month, I thought I would create a post to provide some education on the condition! Endometriosis can cause significant amount of pain and discomfort to women and is associated with infertility. It affects approximately 10-15% of menstruating women between ages 24-40 years. Endometriosis can start during the onset of a women’s period or begin later on in life.
Endometriosis occurs when the cells lining the uterus travel outside to other parts of the body and implant into different areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, rectum, intestines or pelvic cavity, just to name a few areas. These cells are similar to the cells that are created in the uterus and are shed during menstruation. The cells can accumulate and end up forming into scar tissues. This can be very painful.
Three MAIN symptoms of endometriosis known as a “triad of symptoms” include:
- Dysmenorrhea (pain with menstruation)
- Dyspareunia (pain with vaginal intercourse)
Pain can occur before your period starts and can last for a day or two during your period or throughout the month. Some women may experience intense labor like pains along with vomiting, diarrhea, and fainting. This pain can disrupt your daily functions and can end up affecting your social relationships, work, school and overall well-being.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pain with urination
- Pain with bowel movements
- Bleeding from nose, bladder and/or bowels
- Genetic: Main risk factor is heredity – if your first degree relative has severe endometriosis, your chances of endometriosis are 6x higher than women without a first degree relative with endometriosis
- Environmental: there are some suggestions that xenoestrogens that act like estrogens is linked with a risk of endometriosis
- Physical exam with your doctor can reveal tenderness on your abdomen
- Definitive diagnosis is accomplished with a laparoscopy, where a surgical scope is inserted into a small incision in your pelvic region
- A screening blood test called CA-125 is often done and can help monitor treatment
Natural Treatment of Endometriosis:
The goal of using natural therapies is to provide relief to the symptoms that are associated with endometriosis in addition to providing some clarity and understanding to the underlying cause of the condition. We work to understand what is truly going on and how we can work together on making some lifestyle adjustments in order to prevent recurrence.
GOALS OF TREATMENT
- Reduce inflammation
- Balance the immune system
- Balance hormones (i.e. estrogen and progesterone)
- Support the liver’s function of detoxing hormones
- Reduce stress
- Prevent an increased production of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body
- High Fiber Diet
- Limit red meat and consume vegetarian protein
- High amount of vegetables
- Reduce/Limit – alcohol, red meat, sugar, caffeine
- Exercise improves circulation and releases endorphins, resulting in a decrease in pain
- BOTANICAL MEDICINE
- Chaste Tree – this herb has the ability to balance our estrogen and progesterone resulting in allowing the body to decrease the amount of estrogen
- Dandelion Root – known for its detoxification properties, dandelion is great for supporting the liver to eliminate excess estrogen and toxins.
- Curcumin (Turmeric) – has great anti-inflammatory properties which can especially help those with endometriosis
- Acupuncture can be great at reducing the pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis
- Acupuncture can also be great for improving fertility outcomes as it enhances flow to the ovaries and uterus
- Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E, Selenium work to defend the body from cellular damage
- Essential Fatty Acids: help to reduce inflammation
- B Vitamins: help the liver to efficiently process estrogens.
By: Dr Samina Mitha, ND
Acupuncture for pain in endometriosis. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet]. 2011.
Hudson, Tori. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.