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.
Retrograde menstrual flow:
Where by 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. Tampon use has also been implicated in this process but is yet to be irrefutably proven. However, the dyes and bleaches used in tampons pose much more of a risk given then are in direct contact with mucous membranes which are no doubt absorbing the chemicals housed in the tampons straight into our blood stream.
Pads are are much preferred sanitary measure for these 2 reasons.
Women with endometriosis often have high than normal levels of estrogen. However it is a chicken and egg situation in that is is unclear whether the high estrogen causes endometriosis or that increased endometrial tissue growth increase oestrogen production.
Studies have shown abnormalities in immunological parameters such as B and T immune cells, cytokines and auto immune markers. Again, the evidence is still not conclusive.
Signs and symptoms:
Severe period pain
Heavy periods, flooding, large clots or passing of chunks of tissue
Pain on defecation felt either internally or at the rectum due to endometriosis on the bowel.
Painful intercourse, INFERTILITY
Mid cycle pain, particularly during ovulation, especially if endometriosis is on the ovary.
Digestive symptoms such as bloating.
Naturopathic treatment and management focuses on the use of herbal medicines to balance hormones, rectify dietary and nutritional insufficiencies and manage pain and inflammation.
On a personal note…….. I used to suffer horrendously with the pain and debilitation of endometriosis. I knuckled down for a good 10 months and committed myself to a herbal and vitamin regime as well as consuming an ultra clean diet and 5 years on, I have not have a painful period since. There were times before treatment that I ended up in emergency on a morphine drip in agony, so I share this story so as to provide some ray of hope if you too, are suffering.