Endometriosis is way more common that we are led to believe. There are an estimated 1 in 10 women of reproductive age that are thought to be suffering from this condition.
The problem is that many women are undiagnosed, or have to wait years for a proper diagnosis, often only recognised if they have problems conceiving (it's one of the top causes of infertility).
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful condition whereby parts of your uterine tissue grow outside of your uterus (like having a period from the wrong place). These endometrial lesions can grow anywhere in your body, but are most common in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel and bladder. They are sensitive to oestrogen so they bleed with your menstrual cycle causing heavy periods, pain and inflammation. Over time these bleeds can cause lesions and scarring.
- Period pain/cramps
- Pelvic pain
- Heavy and/or long periods
- IBS like symptoms
- UTI’s or bladder problems
- Bloating, gas
- Painful sex
- Inflammation – endometriosis is essentially an inflammatory condition. Inflammation usually starts in the gut (through underlying infections or food sensitivities).
- Autoimmune – endometriosis is thought to involve an overactive immune response, therefore classing it as an autoimmune disease more than a hormonal condition.
- Liver health – too many toxins, alcohol, medications or just poor clearance can affect oestrogen levels and toxins in the body, contributing to more inflammation.
- Diet – nutrient deficiencies or a diet with too much sugar, refined carbs, bad fats or processed foods can all increase inflammation.
- Hormone imbalance (exacerbates rather than causes) – endometriosis is exacerbated by excess oestrogen, which can cause cell proliferation, therefore making the condition worse.
- Surgery – surgical excision of the lesions is the conventional treatment, however many lesions can grow back within 5 years.
- Hormone suppression – the birth control pill or stronger medications are often used to suppress ovulation and oestrogen production, however this can have longer term consequences for brain and bone health.
As the condition is potentially caused by inflammation and worsened by high oestrogen levels, a hormone-balancing anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, supporting the liver and reducing environmental oestrogen exposure can all help to relieve symptoms until postmenopause, at which time the condition naturally dissipates.
- Diet – getting the right nutrients in your diet can hugely improve symptoms. Try;
- excluding dairy and gluten, which can help to reduce inflammation
- balancing your blood sugar to reduce excess insulin (and therefore reducing oestrogen and inflammation). Avoid sugar and refined carbs, eat plenty of protein and healthy fats at each meal, and reduce snacking between meals.
- avoiding alcohol (which can contribute to excess oestrogen)
- eating plenty of fibre and probiotic foods to support your gut
- eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, rocket etc) to help your liver detoxify excess oestrogen.
- Manage your Stress – too much cortisol from a stressful life or underlying stress on the body can disrupt hormones and gut function.
- Minimise Environmental Toxins – Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals can mess up your oestrogen balance and exacerbate symptoms.
- eat organic as much as possible to avoid pesticides
- swap your cleaning and laundry products to more natural brands
- avoid plastics such as BPA
- Supplements can help – although always check with your Dr if you are on any medication.
- Fish oils containing good levels of EPA/DHA – to reduce inflammation
- Multivitamin – with good levels of active vitamins and minerals
- Turmeric/Curcumin – can be very helpful for pain and inflammation
- Vitamin D3 & K2 – take together to support the immune system
- Magnesium Malate – helps with fatigue and stress
- Probiotics – can help to support gut health
- DIM – a good liver support
- Agnus Castus Vitex – can be helpful to support progesterone levels
If these steps don't improve symptoms, you may need to look further into your gut health to identify the specific cause of inflammation and/or auto-immune reaction.
Do get in touch with us to discuss our state of the art stool and hormone tests.