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Do you know the signs of endometriosis?

8 Feb 2017 2:22 PM -

Have you been diagnosed with endometriosis?  Or do you experience symptoms that fit with endometriosis and think you might have it? 

It is a condition we often see in clinic and can affect our clients in various ways with symptoms ranging from mild or severe.  

‘March into Yellow’ is an event throughout March raising awareness of endometriosis by encouraging people to wear yellow.  So I thought there is no better time for me to write about this condition....and wear my favourite yellow shoes in March.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when uterus lining tissue (endometrium) grows outside the uterus in other parts of the body.  Tissue may be found on the ovaries and in the pelvic cavity, or on the bowel or bladder for example, and the extent of the growths will vary for each woman.  Due to various symptoms a woman can experience, (and the time in which it can take to develop and get a diagnosis), sometimes, a woman may have the condition for 10 years or more before being aware they even have it.

The endometrial tissue that is misplaced in other parts of the body continues to respond to a woman’s reproductive hormones such as oestrogen, each month.  Under the influence of oestrogen, the tissue thickens, however because this misplaced tissue cannot be expelled during menstruation (like it does when it lines the uterus) it can cause further inflammation and scarring, and depending on the severity of the endometriosis, it may cause reduced fertility.

Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are certainly treatment options available to help you manage the condition.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods

  • Pelvic pain

  • Heavy periods

  • Bleeding in between periods

  • Pain during sex

  • Pain passing a bowel movement or whilst urinating (especially during menstruation)

  • Pain during ovulation

  • Lower back pain

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

The only way to make a definite diagnosis of endometriosis is via laparoscopy.  This is where a specialist will take a look inside your pelvic cavity using a thin flexible tube with a camera attached.  It is often termed key hole surgery.  Of course, before any specialist will conduct this procedure you will also need to fit the clinical picture of endometriosis.

Other less invasive techniques may also be employed, such as ultrasound, to make a diagnosis of endometriosis and may be done in consideration of the woman’s future plans (such as whether or not they are planning for pregnancy, their age and general health status). 

How is endometriosis treated?

Treatment for endometriosis will depend on the severity of the condition, the woman’s age and plans for pregnancy.  Often surgery is used to remove the lesions which can improve the woman’s pain and fertility.  Unfortunately, after surgery tissue growths can return in some women and therefore the use of hormonal medications which suppress oestrogen may be recommended.  This treatment can also cause side effects so again any treatment plan will be guided by each woman’s experience and symptoms.

What can you do to help manage your endometriosis?

There are some great natural ways to reduce inflammation, promote healthy oestrogen metabolism and support immune function which are all implicated with the condition. 

  • Include anti-inflammatory foods into your diet such as turmeric, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beetroot, walnuts, chia seeds and salmon.

  • Reach for foods high in zinc to support your immune system such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds (linseeds), spinach, nuts, a good quality dark chocolate, oysters and grass-fed lean beef.

  • Help your body detoxify so it can metabolise and excrete excess oestrogen by including broccoli, cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts into meals

  • Exercise regularly to reduce inflammation, support your immune system, remove waste and contribute to a general sense of well-being

How can a naturopath help?

In addition to diet and lifestyle recommendations to help manage your symptoms, there are many herbal and nutritional supplements available which may reduce inflammation, modulate hormones and support the healthy lining of the gastrointestinal tract (which in turn assists your immune system).  

Herbs such as turmeric, ginger and chaste tree may be used to help manage your symptoms and supplements such as zinc, n-acetyl-cysteine and probiotics may support your immune system and reduce inflammation. However, before commencing any herbal or nutritional supplement, I recommend you speak to a qualified naturopath to ensure they are not only safe (in consideration of other treatments you may be having), but appropriate for you and your symptoms. 

Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss your symptoms and see if naturopathy can help you.  I can be reached at the clinic on 03 9620 9503 or via email lee@lavidahealth.com.au

Love yourself; love your health!

 

Lee Copeland
Naturopath
Melbourne CBD

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