At OC Wellness and The Wellness Reporter we feel strongly about raising awareness for Endometriosis and this incredibly tough diagnosis that so many women suffer silently through.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis affects one in 10 around the globe (recorded) and its symptoms can be incredibly debilitating and disruptive to a woman’s life and sense of self. This particular and often undiagnosed condition arises when uterine tissue develops outside of the uterus-on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissue lining of the pelvis. Hormonal changes that the body faces with monthly menstrual cycles highly affect the misplaced endometrial tissue, leading it to become inflamed and painful. With time, the tissue continues to grow and break down but once the tissue breaks down, it becomes trapped in your pelvis which then leads to other discomforts. When this tissue gets trapped into your pelvis you may encounter further scar formation, irritation, severe pain during your periods and fertility problems. While the exact cause of this painful diagnosis is mixed, it is clear that hormonal imbalances are at the root and therefore, a healing plan should take balancing hormones into account on the journey to healing and improved symptoms.
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
Having a fibre rich diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes), an iron rich diet (broccoli, beans, dark leafy greens, mixed nuts and seeds), an essential fatty acid diet (sardines, salmon, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, trouts) and lastly, an antioxidant rich food diet (oranges, dark chocolate, mixed berries, spinach and beets).
Reducing red meat consumption
Supporting the liver
Living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle
Incorporating enough Omega 3’s
Increasing water intake and decreasing alcohol intake
Living with unexpected flare-ups and particularly tough weeks of symptoms can have long-lasting impacts on one’s career, social life, sex life and self-esteem. Endometriosis is a condition that can feel isolating, lonely and impossible to deal with at times which is why the more people who know about it will help de stigmatise it. Although some women do not experience any Endometriosis symptoms, generally they seem to look something like all, a combination or one of the below:
A LOOK INSIDE ENDOMETRIOSIS
Low sex drive and painful sex
Uncomfortable bowel movements
Pain often becomes normal in the lives of women who suffer from Endometriosis. Dealing with that pain becomes the focus rather than trying to unsuccessfully avoid it after years of trying different things. A brave face, a straight face and a toolbox of coping techniques seem to be the only option for many who feel like their uterus is on fire and being stabbed repeatedly as they go about their daily life and try to live as normally as possible.
WHEN TO SEEK FOR HELP/ VISIT A DOCTOR
We recommend to visit your local doctor and gynaecologist if you experience most of the symptoms and signs that may indicate that you have Endometriosis. However, bear in mind that Endometriosis can be often mistaken with other conditions that have similar symptoms and that can cause strong pelvic pain such as: pelvic inflammatory disease or ovarian cysts. Sometimes it is also confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome also known as “IBS”, as this condition causes diarrhoea or constipation and strong abdominal pain, leading to feel continuously tired. Also, Endometriosis can takes years and years to be diagnosed by doctors, so finding your ways to alleviate pain and stay as healthy as possible to deal with the discomfort most effectively seems to be the path that many go down as a last (but most realistic) resort.
Diverse factors can increase chances of developing Endometriosis such as:
Having a mother or sister who have Endometriosis
Having your first period at an early age
Having short menstrual cycles, that last less than 27 days
Having menstrual periods that last more than 7 days
Having abnormal reproductive tracts
Having high Oestrogen levels in the body
Taking medications that prevent normal Menstrual flow out of the body
There are different cures to Endometriosis. The predominant ones either involve medication or surgery according to your personal condition and on how severe your symptoms and your Endometriosis stage are at. Typically, doctors will try to use conservative approaches before opting for surgery. These include:
Pain Medication (ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
Hormone Therapy (hormonal medication can help to ease or eliminate Endometriosis pain and slow the endometrial tissue growth. However hormonal therapies unfortunately are not a permanent fix for Endometriosis. This means that you can experience symptoms again once the treatment is stopped).
Hormonal Contraceptives (vaginal rings, birth control pills and patches control the hormones that are responsible for building up endometrial tissue, that may also reduce or eliminate pain).
Gonadotropin- releasing hormone (these medications stop the production of ovarian-stimulating hormones, reducing Oestrogen levels and mensuration. This leads the endometrial tissues to shrink while simultaneously decreasing menopausal side effects).
Progestin Therapy (contraceptive implant, intrauterin device, contraceptive injection and progestin pill can stop the growth of endometrial implants and menstrual periods, relieving symptoms and pain).
Aromatase Inhibitors (medications that reduce the amount of Oestrogen produced in the body).
Conservative Surgery (if you are trying to become pregnant and have Endometriosis, doctors will recommend to remove the Endometriosis implants with surgery. Women who live with very strong Endometriosis pain may also benefit from surgery. Nevertheless, Endometriosis and pain may still come back even after surgery).
Inevitably, living with a diagnosis such as this can affect mental health, confidence and self-love. To feel a little better in these areas, we have listed some of our favourite self-care ideas with endometriosis in mind:
• Move through it with gentle exercise, stretching and movement • Go outside and breathe fresh air • Accept the feeling with love • Journal and write thoughts • Meditate / Prayer • Yoga • Speak to a trusted friend/ expert for help and advice • Breath work • Crystal healing • Reading • No phone / social media detox • Nature Therapy • Have a duvet day (a day off) • Hot water bottles • Make your favourite warm drink • Take a hot bath with essential oils and epsom salts We hope that this article has been helpful in providing tools to help you understand Endometriosis better, and manage or help a friend who might suffer from this diagnosis.
Olivia & Sveva xx