What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common condition, where tissue similar to the lining of endometrium (which normally lines the uterus) is found in abnormal sites around the body, causing pain and infertility.
In Australia, 1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis. And about 30 to 50% of these women will also be infertile.
What are the Symptoms?
Here is a long winded list of symptoms of endometriosis. Like with a lot of conditions, you may not experience all symptoms and in fact some women may experience very few!
- Painful periods, often with cramping
- Heavy and/or long periods with clotting
- Spotting before your period or after sex
- Pelvic pain that can often radiate to the legs, thighs and back
- Pain with sex (and peeing)
- Hot flushes
- Thrush (particularly before your period)
- Abdominal bloating
- Nausea & vomiting
- Constipation (before period) and diarrhoea (during period)
- Headaches & fatigue
- Fainting & dizziness
- Anxiety & depression
- Anaemia (low iron)
How is Endo Diagnosed?
The only way to be 100% certain of the diagnosis is to have a laparoscopy. This is a surgical procedure where a biopsy (tissue sample) is taken to be tested to confirm the presence of endometriosis. Sometimes the diagnosis can be suggested without having a laparoscopy. This can be based on your history and you may be able to feel (or see) the tissues in your pelvis that are affected by endometriosis.
Want to know what can help?
Carry on with the article below >
What Can be Done to Help?
Studies surrounding dietary and nutritional management for endometriosis have all been positive, finding there is SO much that can be done to reduce pain and improve chances of fertility.
Things to increase:
- Antioxidant rich foods – berries, red grapes, green tea, pecans, artichoke, cinnamon, cacao & kidney beans
- Inflammatory reducing foods – turmeric, ginger, raw fresh nuts and seeds, oily fish & cold pressed oils
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, brussels sprouts & cabbage
- Fibre – beans, wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts & seeds
- Omega 3 fatty acids – oily fish, cold pressed oils, raw fresh nuts & seeds particularly flax seed
- Maca – great to add to smoothies for hormonal balancing & increasing energy
- Nutritional supplementation – more & more research supports the use of supplements such as NAC, zinc, curcumin, magnesium, iron, B vitamins in improving pain & fertility
- Exercise – regular exercises decreases pain but check in with your cycle to find when the right time to exercise is
- Stress management – stress contributes to inflammation & endo symptoms!
Things to limit:
- Caffeine & coffee – many endo sufferers steer clear of coffee 100% saying they feel a huge reduction in pain, PMS symptoms & fatigue
- Processed foods – cakes, chips, processed meats, fried foods & white carbs
- Soy products – eg. soy milk which actually increases oestrogen
- Inflammatory foods – sugar, alcohol, possibly gluten or dairy
- Alcohol – increases inflammation, which we know is widespread with endo
- Added hormones – chose produce with no added hormones (we don’t need any more!)
- Hormone disruptors – be aware of products containing these & try to reduce where possible ie. BPA (plastic containers), parabens (cosmetics), phthalates (food wrappers) etc.
Will I Need Surgery?
A laparatomy is the surgical procedure performed to remove the endometriosis from the affected organs. Usually surgery is reserved for the child bearing years, once the endometriosis has been removed, to allow a window of opportunity for conception. But even then, there is a 35-70% chance of recurrence after surgical removal. Some suggest an improvement in pain and fertility following the surgery, however it is not necessarily needed for all woman and we strongly encourage everyone to weigh up all risks and benefits before considering this option. It is really important to still continue following lifestyle and nutritional management, to continue to support your body.
Remember, your surgery is only a small part of the management in reducing pain and infertility. Let us help!
As a women who has personally suffered from endo as well as a clinician, I have helped so many people with this before and want to get this message out there. Please book a free phone chat with me below so I can help you get on the right track with your pain, fertility so you can get your life back.