Endometriosis a health disorder of the endometrium, the tissue that makes up your uterine lining (your womb), and grows in other parts of your body. Endometriosis most often occurs on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder and the tissue lining your pelvis, but can appear in other areas of your body too.
When endometrium grows in other parts of your body, this can present difficulties to the bowels and bladder, cause abdominal and lower back pain, and affect the pelvic floor muscles; all of which are linked to a range of difficult symptoms a woman can face throughout her menstrual cycle.
Inflammatory reactions in the body, the development of scar tissue adhesions, and cysts filled with blood are all regular occurrences women with endometriosis face. This can affect how a woman feels every day, from her hormones to her energy levels. Endometriosis is also responsible for nearly half of fertility cases affecting one in ten women in their childbearing years.
How many women have endometriosis?
Between 3% and 10% of reproductive-aged women have endometriosis. Endometriosis is rarely found in girls before they start their period. However, endometriosis is found in up to 50% of young women and teens with pelvic pain and painful periods.
What are the signs and symptoms of Endometriosis?
If you have endometriosis, you most likely have lower abdominal pain, painful periods, painful sex or may be having a tough time getting pregnant. On the other hand, you may not have many symptoms of endometriosis at all. Symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and depend on where the tissue is growing in the body.
Symptoms of endometriosis:
- Pelvic pain (during your period or all the time)
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Pain when going to the bathroom
- Heavy and painful periods
- Bleeding from the bottom or bloody stools
- Emotional repercussions (anxiety, depression, sadness)
- Weakened immune system
- Digestion issues
- Chronic fatigue
What exactly causes Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is not well understood, and modern medicine doesn’t exactly know why endometriosis occurs.
Some unconfirmed ideas about the cause endometriosis include retrograde menstruation (backflow of menstrual blood into the abdominal cavity), endometrial cells traveling through the blood or lymph circulatory systems to other areas of the body, or that endometrium can spread during a surgery.
The short of it is, it’s unclear exactly what causes endometriosis and it can be difficult to diagnose. If your doctor thinks you may have endometriosis, you will need to have a laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis. This is a minimally invasive surgery that allows doctors to look inside your abdomen with a tiny camera.
What’s the relationship between endometriosis and fertility?
Between 20% and 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis.
Endometriosis seems to impact fertility in a couple of different ways:
- Endometriosis distorts the fallopian tubes, blocking movement of the egg from the ovaries to the uterus after ovulation.
- Endometriosis causes inflammation
How is endometriosis treated in Western Medicine?
To treat the pain associated with endometriosis, doctors may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.
Because the pain and some other symptoms of endometriosis are thought to be affected by hormone levels, some doctors may prescribe medications that affect a woman’s hormones. Most commonly, oral contraceptive may be prescribed. Other times, gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists may be prescribed, which put women into a temporary “menopause” state.
Surgery is also a treatment method. Surgery can be used to remove the endometriosis or burn the lesions outside the uterus, trying to get them to go away.
Are there ways to treat Endometriosis without drugs and surgery?
Natural Ways to Help Endometriosis Symptoms
If you want to avoid surgery and prescription medications, there are natural ways to help address your endometriosis and reduce your symptoms.
You know your body better than anyone! Because your body is different from other women, and their bodies are different from yours, take the time, have some patience and be kind to yourself while going through the process of figuring out what works best for you.
Become familiar with the root causes of endometriosis and holistic treatment options before opting into something more dramatic. Some natural therapies include simple dietary changes, abdominal massage and acupuncture.
Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet
When working towards relieving your endometriosis symptoms naturally, you need to begin by eliminating foods that lead to inflammation in your body, and adding foods that are anti-inflammatory.
Some common inflammatory foods you may be eating include dairy, processed foods, refined sugars, processed meats and refined carbohydrates. Being mindful of your body while eliminating these foods from your diet for at least three weeks, you’ll begin to see your body change for the better.
Another category of foods that should be eliminated from your diet with endometriosis are the high estrogen foods. Makes sense, right? Especially because endometriosis appears to be so affected by hormonal changes in the body. High estrogen foods to avoid could be messing up your hormone balance. Some of the high estrogen foods to avoid are wheat, soy, food additives, conventional meat and dairy, and alcohol.
Anti-inflammatory foods you should be adding to your diet include omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, especially flax seeds. Another food rich in healthy fats are avocados. They’re also a good source of the mineral potassium, which also helps to support balanced hormones.
You should be eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables too. Especially dark green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. They are high in vitamins, minerals and other compounds, which help balance estrogens and reduce inflammation.
There are so many culinary herbs and spices that also help reduce inflammation in your body. Some of them include ginger, sage, turmeric, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne.
You can’t “cure” your endometriosis with your diet. However, the foods you eat will absolutely have an effect on your body’s overall physiology and health. Eating the right foods can help decrease inflammation, and therefore pain, balance your hormones and improve your overall mood.
Give Yourself Abdominal Massage
Giving yourself an abdominal massage is a fantastic way to help the pain associated with endometriosis. Abdominal massage helps to promote healthy blood flow to your uterus
Abdominal massage also helps keep your organs, like your uterus and ovaries, in the right place. Maybe this sounds crazy to you, but your organs can get out of place. Maybe it’s the hours you spend sitting in front of a computer, or the effect of repetitive movements over time, but organs can get out of place in the body and throw things off. Proper form equals proper function.
Look for a massage therapist that specializes in abdominal massage. Or there is a great tutorial for self-massage for you here.
Get Acupuncture to Help Your Endometriosis
Recent research shows acupuncture therapy for endometriosis reduces pain more effectively than conventional medication.
- More effective than hormone drug therapy for the treatment of endometriosis.
- Relieves menstrual pain due to endometriosis
- Reduces the size of pelvic masses
- Lowers CA125 levels
- Reduces the recurrence rate of endometriosis.
Chinese medicine is the most complete, modern healthcare system in the world. Like all science and medicine, Chinese medicine is always evolving and has been in use for 2,000-4,000 years. Chinese medicine understands that the body has an innate ability to heal when given the right stimulus and support.
Acupuncture helps strengthen the functional energy & physiology of the body. Acupuncture improves nervous system function, strengthens the immune system, balances hormones, boosts energy & improves circulation; which reduces pain, inflammation, hormonal imbalances and stress.
Acupuncture uses small, single-use needles to to stimulate points along the meridians of the body. The meridians are a circulatory system in the the fascia of the body. Meridians are recognized & understood in Chinese medicine as pathways which Qi (energy) moves throughout the entire body.
Stimulating the acupuncture points along the body’s meridians improves circulation of energy, blood, oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of the body to help
- Reduce pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Balance hormones
- Improve fertility
- Reduce stress and anxiety
Moxa is a herb often used with acupuncture to have an enhanced therapeutic effect on your body.
Moxa is an herbal heat warming therapy. The heat is used over acupuncture points or areas of the body to help improve circulation to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Because acupuncture and moxibustion are both natural treatments, they’re safe for you to use alongside your medications and should not cause side effects.
Other therapies of Chinese medicine that may be used to treat your endometriosis are herbal medicine, Tui Na bodywork, dietary recommendations and lifestyle suggestions.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, these holistic supportive therapies can be used to help you through what can be a physically and emotionally challenging time. These therapies can help the body’s physiology, as well as the mind.
In her early 30’s, Sarah began to feel like her body was betraying her. A few years earlier she started to have pain with her period. Over the next few months her symptoms worsened. Pain during Sarah’s period was horrendous, she would have sharp pains while working out and sex became painful.
Sarah knew she needed to address whatever was going on. After seeing several doctors, her symptoms dismissed by some and misdiagnosis by others, she saw a doctor who performs a laparoscopy. The surgical procedure that left two twin scars on her lower abdomen, produced the diagnosis of endometriosis.
Over the next two years she tried hormonal birth control, had surgery for her endometriosis and both treatment options failed.
At 32, Sarah was not happy about her treatment options for her endometriosis. The next conventional treatment option presented to her was Lupron injections. Lupron put your body into a state of controlled menopause, totally shutting down the ovaries. Lupron is only 40% effective and the side effects include: flu-like symptoms, hot flashes, hormonal mood swings and painful joints.
Sarah decided to seek out alternative treatment options for her endometriosis. She decided to come in for acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
Sarah came in for weekly acupuncture treatments for 8 weeks, then spaced out to every other week and now she’s on a tune-up schedule once a month. We also incorporated moxibustion therapy, herbal medicine, bodywork and dietary changes to her treatment plan.
After 3 months, she was feeling a lot better. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine may not make the endometriosis go away, but it therapeutically treats the body to reduce pain & inflammation, balance hormones, and settle stress and anxiety. Sarah is managing her endometriosis with these therapies, feels a ton better and like she’s rediscovering her body.
Call Awaken Acupuncture Today
Do you or anyone you know suffer with endometriosis? Call Awaken Acupuncture today to start healing and recovery from endometriosis with gentle, relaxing and supportive therapies that’ll help you feel better.