Endometriosis: there is hope
Endometriosis is basically a condition whereby tissue (the endometrial lining) that would normally be confined inside the uterus, finds itself outside the uterus and begins to deposit itself on other tissues and organs including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel and bladder.
Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition characterised by the presence of endometrial tissue outside the the womb. These pieces of womb lining, or endometrial tissue then behaves in the same way as it does in the womb, growing during the menstrual cycle in response to estrogen in anticipation of an egg being fertilised, and conversely, shedding of blood via menses when fertilisation does not occur. Essentially, endometrial tissue, which is normally found inside the uterus, migrates outside the uterus and continues to respond to the cyclic, hormonal changes.
However, whilst the thickened endometrial lining is shed during a woman’s period when conception does not occur, there is no avenue for the endometrial tissue that has lodged itself outside the womb to escape. Thus continues to grow and spread, and can cause scarring, considerable pain, adhesions and complete obstruction of fallopian tubes or adhesion to the bladder and bowel.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN??
There is no single known cause of endometriosis per se, however there are a number of theories.
1) Retrograde menstrual flow:
Referring to the theory that menstrual blood flows back in the opposite direction, taking with it fragments of endometrial tissue, which then adheres and lodges in fallopian tubes or in other areas of the abdominal cavity.
2) Hormonal disruption:
Women with endometriosis often have high than normal levels of estrogen.
3) Immunological factors:
Studies have shown abnormalities in immunological parameters. In English, what this essentially means is that the immune system is reactive, which causes an inflammatory response, inflammation equals pain.
Signs and symptoms include Severe period pain, Heavy periods, pain when emptying bowels, painful intercourse, INFERTILITY, anaemia and digestive symptoms such as bloating.
Things to avoid include soy products and heated plastics. Like soy, plastics contain a by-product known as xenoestrogens, which fit into estrogen receptors (xeno meaning foreign). Avoid heated plastic wraps (glad wrap), drinking water from a water bottle that has been sitting in a warm car, microwaving and reheating food in plastic containers, alcohol and caffeine and sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system and is highly inflammatory.
In a nut shell, Endometriosis is an extremely complex and largely misunderstood condition. Medically, the only real option is to have repeated laparoscopies to laser off offending endometrial tissue and use the pill, IUD and other hormone replacements to moderate hormonal fluctuations.
The kicker is though, when a woman decides she is ready to start a family, one must come off these pills and hormones, only to find themselves back at square one.
I have seen natural medicines manage the pain and heaviness of endometriosis amazingly well, but with everything, there is no quick fix, it takes commitment to making long term changes and preparedness for long term treatment.