by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
Endometriosis is one of the most common health issues experienced among women and one of the leading causes of infertility.
It may affect more than 11 percent, more than 6½ million women in American between the ages of 15 and 44. It is especially common among women in their 30’s and 40’s.
For women with endometriosis, the lining tissue of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. The misplaced tissue responds to the monthly hormones by thickening and shedding with every menstrual cycle; however, the thick tissue is outside of the uterus and is unable to pass through the vagina and out of the body. The endometrial flow is then trapped and may cause inflammation and pain. Adhesions, or scar tissue, may form and stick one organ to another. It can even cause the fallopian tubes to close, which can lead to infertility.
Most often, endometrioses is found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissues that hold the uterus in place, and outer surface of the uterus. Other sites for growths can include the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum. Rarely, endometriosis appears in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, and skin.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
With many women, the progression of endometriosis symptoms is slow, developing over many years. Each woman experiences a different range of pain, which can make a diagnosis difficult. The pain typically begins in the lower abdomen and intensifies during a women’s menstrual period or sexual intercourse. As the pain becomes more severe, it may begin to radiate through the lower belly, back, and legs—it is often described as cramp-like pain.
The most common symptoms of endometriosis can include very painful menstrual cramps, chronic lower back and pelvis pain, painful periods, irregular periods, painful intercourse, increased pain during bowel movements, increased pain during urination, excessive bleeding, spotting and bleeding between cycles, painful digestion, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, infertility, joint pain, nerve pain, chronic fatigue, and bloating.
Inflammation is also an issue and the forming of scar tissue and adhesions (type of tissue that can bind your organs together) can be a problem. The scar tissue may cause pelvic pain and make it hard for you to get pregnant.
No one knows for sure what causes this disease, but possible causes are problems with menstrual period flow. Retrograde menstrual flow is the most likely cause of endometriosis. Some of the tissue shed during the period flows through the fallopian tube into other areas of the body, such as the pelvis. Genetic factors can be a reason because endometriosis seems to run in families.
A faulty immune system may fail to find and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus, and research shows that the hormone estrogen appears to promote endometriosis.
Treatments for Endometriosis
While there are many conventional treatments for the symptoms of endometriosis, there are also many natural ones as well.
A healthy diet is a great way to start when attempting to relieve symptoms naturally.
Begin by eliminating foods that lead to inflammation. This includes dairy, processed foods, refined sugars, caffeine, and carbohydrates. Eliminate these foods from your diet for at least three weeks, paying close attention to your body. You may also want to eliminate alcohol, soy, and other high-estrogen foods from your diet because of their estrogenic effects.
A 2004 study published in Human Reproduction found that there is a significant reduction in the risk of developing endometriosis in women who consume green vegetables and fresh fruit.
So, try to add these beneficial anti-inflammatory foods to your diet: green leafy vegetables, celery, beets, broccoli, blueberries, salmon, pineapple, walnuts, coconut oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, turmeric, ginger, and bok choy.
Magnesium-rich foods also help soothe the uterus and reduce pain. These include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans, avocado, almonds, bananas, chard, and spinach.
Iron-rich foods are important as well because they replenish the loss of iron in the body, which is a result of excess bleeding. Some foods containing iron include liver, beefsteak, navy beans, black beans, spinach, egg yolk, prunes, artichokes, and collard greens.
In addition, you can help to reduce inflammation, relieve joint, and muscle pain, and regulate hormone production, with omega-3 foods.
Add flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel to your diet.
If you are suffering from constipation as an endometriosis symptom, eat high-fiber foods like quinoa, vegetables, berries, coconut, figs, artichokes, peas, okra, brussel sprouts, turnipsand acorn squash.
Acupuncture may also be effective, safe, and well-tolerated as an adjunct therapy, according to a study conducted at Harvard Medical School for endometriosis-related pelvic pain. For the study, 18 young women, ages 12–22 with laparoscopically diagnosed endometriosis-related chronic pelvic pain, were analyzed. Participants in the active acupuncture group experienced 62 percent less pain after four weeks, which differed significantly from the control group’s average reduction.
In addition, the essential oil, clary sage, was found to help balance hormones naturally and has been found to effectively reduce pain and cramping when applied topically. You can apply two to four drops added to a carrier oil, then apply it topically over the abdomen, and then apply a warm compress over the area to relieve the pain.
Can You Prevent Endometriosis?
You cannot prevent endometriosis. However, you can reduce your chances of developing it by lowering the levels of the hormone estrogen in your body. Estrogen helps to thicken the lining of your uterus during your menstrual cycle.
To keep lower estrogen levels in your body, you can exercise regularly (more than four hours a week). This will also help you keep a low percentage of body fat. Regular exercise and a lower amount of body fat help decrease the amount of estrogen circulating through the body.
Avoid large amounts of alcohol because it raises estrogen levels. No more than one drink per day is recommended for women.
Avoid large amount of drinks with caffeine. Studies show that drinking more than one caffeinated drink a day, especially sodas and green tea, can raise estrogen levels.
Does Endometriosis Go Away After Menopause?
For some women, the painful symptoms of endometriosis improve after menopause. As the body stops making the hormone estrogen, the growths shrink slowly. However, some women who take menopausal hormone therapy may still have symptoms of endometriosis.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.