For most women menstruation is a time of heightened sensitivity, for women with endometriosis it can be disabling. With approximately 176 million women and girls suffering from endometriosis worldwide, it can now be seen as a global epidemic.
What is Endometriosis?
During normal menstruation the endometrial tissue (lining of the womb), which has been building up throughout the month, becomes swollen then breaks down and is eliminated as long as pregnancy has not occurred.
Now imagine what it would be like if this endometrial tissue grew in places it shouldn’t? In women with endometriosis this tissue can be found between the uterine walls, in the fallopian tubes, on the outside of the womb, or even, on rare occasions, in the joints, brain, or other organs such as the lungs. When hormonal signals are sent to trigger menstruation all the endometrial tissue in the body becomes inflamed and can even shed each month. This can be incredibly painful, but the medical professionals from QCKinetix Hardy Oak will be able to help people dealing with this.
- Pain during intercourse
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Cramping and pain before and during period
- Painful bowel movements
- Painful urination
- Gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea, constipation and nausea
- Long periods
- Intermestrual bleeding
- Chronic lower back and pelvic pain
The Origins of Endo
The cause of endometriosis has been under debate for decades. A common theory was retrograde menstruation; a state where menstrual blood ‘backwashes’ up the fallopian tubes. Doctors thought this carried endometrial cells into other areas of the body where they would implant and grow. But only 10% of women with retrograde menstruation have endometriosis and it is found in many areas far away from menstrual backwash.
FETAL DEVELOPMENT & CHEMICALS
Dr David Redwine was one of the first to discover the fact that endometriosis can form in women during their in utero development. This wasn’t an obvious area to investigate as the symptoms only arise at the onset of menstruation when reproductive hormones activate menstrual inflammation.
According to a paper published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online in July 2010, “Research has recently found evidence for endometriosis in human female fetuses at different gestational ages. The case suggests that “Endometriosis can be caused by dislocation of primitive endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity during organogenesis.” But what is the trigger?
One of the main theories to why endometriosis occurs looks at the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) on fetal development. For many decades now there has been much investigation into the impact of EDC’s on fish, frogs and other animals. But only recently have scientists begun to test and discover high EDC levels in fetal cord blood. Therefore it is no wonder that EDC’s could be disrupting reproductive development in utero resulting is reproductive disorders such as endometriosis.
The study on endocrine disrupting chemical’s (EDC’s) in the journal Endocrine Reviews, December 2008, found, “There is evidence that in utero exposure to DES (pesticide) makes a woman nine times more vulnerable to endometriosis.”
Estrogen is an essential hormone, but too much of a good thing can cause a little chaos. Estrogen promotes tissue growth and has an inflammatory action on endometrial tissue, which is necessary to activate menstruation each month. But is it possible that too much estrogen could cause endometriosis? One thing we do know is it certainly exacerbates it as current scientific evidence shows endometriosis is an estrogen dependent disorder. Factors that increase estrogen levels include petrochemical products (beauty and cleaning products) and environmental toxins, stress, a high intake of processed foods, soya and non-organic animal products. Endometriosis has even been found in some men treated with estrogen therapy.
In the 2015 paper ‘Early life factors and endometriosis risk’ researchers were amazed at the results for women fed soy products as babies, “We observed that women who were regularly fed soy formula as infants had over twice the risk of endometriosis compared to unexposed women.”
INFLAMMATION and AUTOIMMUNITY. The latest area of investigation into endometriosis focuses on the inflammation found in female sufferers. Inflammation is now known as the underlying factor for many health conditions. Stress (including lack of sleep), estrogen dominance, dysbiosis in the gut, and chemical exposure all trigger inflammatory processes in the body. All forms of stress have been known to increase estrogen, reduce progesterone and use up your magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 supplies, which unfortunately fuels endometriosis.
In fact investigators are now finding an autoimmune nature to the inflammatory process that occurs around the endometrial tissue. An area that is imperative to broach in the treatment of this complex disorder.
SURGICAL SCARS. There have been cases of endometriosis located within scars from uterine surgery including caesarean or episiotomy. According to the findings of a large prospective cohort study conducted in Sweden in 2013, researchers “Found an association between caesarean section and general pelvic endometriosis.” Women who had a cesarean were 80% more likely to develop endometriosis than women who had a vaginal delivery. The analysis also showed that the risk of endometriosis increased over time. Having a close female relative with endometriosis increases your chances of having it by seven fold.
According to the Endometriosis Association women with endometriosis are more sensitive to:
- Chemical sensitivities
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Asthma and eczema
- Yeast infections
- Food intolerances
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Autoimmune disorders, including lupus and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Keep your blood sugar levels stable. This is essential for balanced hormones. Each time you get too hungry your body uses your anti-inflammatory hormone progesterone to make your stress hormone cortisol. Progesterone is the antagonist for oestrogen and therefore is key in softening the symptoms of endometriosis as well as supporting your long-term health and vitality.
- Cut out sugar, soya processed foods and high meat consumption. These all increase oestrogen levels and inflammation within the body.
- Eat a mainly organic whole-food diet. Eat high plant protein and fats like avocado, coconut, olives, seeds and nuts; high greens; low grains and fruit. Enjoy plenty of berries, sweet potatoes, fish and green juices. Make sure all your animal products are free of oestrogen, they will be labeled ”grass fed”, ”pasture reared”, ”grain free” or ”organic”. Bone broth is fantastic for gut dysbiosis.
- Probiotics help to heal the gut as well as providing much needed support for the immune system.
- Take a good quality omega 3 fish oil to support hormone production and act as an anti-inflammatory (algae oil for strict vegans).
- Magnesium will help the liver more efficiently metabolize hormones and to prevent spasms and tension in muscles and nerves, helping you reduce pain.
- Vitamin B6 and B complex with extra panthothenic acid will support ovaries and the adrenal glands.
- Turmeric or curcumin is a high grade anti-inflammatory and fantastic natural pain killer.
- Natural progesterone cream will balance the oestrogen, keep down inflammation, help to shrink rogue endometrial tissue and support stress.
- Chasteberry can balance progesterone and oestrogen.
- Zeolite, fulvic acid or NAC will to help detox synthetic chemicals.
- Coconut oil, avocado and hemp support the production of pregnenolone, cortisol and progesterone.
LAPAROSCOPY is a form of keyhole surgery that is used to remove endometrial tissue and adhesions. This is a useful procedure for women who are experiencing compromised health and pain from endometriosis, or who have made healthy lifestyle shifts but are still struggling to fall pregnant. For up to 50% of patients that don’t make relevant lifestyle changes the endometriosis often regrows within 5 years.
FIRST CLASS MEDICAL SUPPORT – First prize is to find a Functional Medicine or Integrative Medicine GP that specializes in natural hormone balancing and autoimmune disorders, and is up to date on the latest tools.