WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus is implanted in the pelvic cavity, often on the ovaries, in the fallopian tubes and along the pelvis. The cause of endometriosis is unknown however the prevailing theory is retrograde menstruation, whereby menstrual blood flows backwards into the pelvic cavity and adheres. Over 90% of women will however experience retrograde menstruation at some point in their lifetime and the large majority will not have endometriosis. Since the excess tissue is fully functioning, it will grow throughout the menstrual cycle and bleed at menstruation causing significant inflammation, adhesions and scarring. This occurs because the excess implants are outside the uterus and trapped between layers of tissue.
The leading symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, which is most often present during menstruation (but can also be present at other times). There is often a triad of symptoms associated with endometriosis. This triad includes:
- Painful periods: Often the pain will start 2-3 days before menstruation and nausea and diarrhea can occur with the pain. Pain often resolves at the end of menstruation. There is NO relationship between the severity of pain and the severity of endometriosis.
- Pain with intercourse: Particularly on deep thrust
- Excessive bleeding – whether this be heavy periods, bleeding between periods or spotting. Often women will have a history of short cycles (less than 28 days), heavy flow lasting 5+ days and menses lasting 7+ days
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
Naturopathic treatment for endometriosis:Naturopathic treatment for reducing symptoms of endometriosis is aimed primarily at reducing excess estrogens through:
- Supporting the liver which processes hormones for excretion
- Reducing exposure to exogeneous estrogens
- Regulating blood sugar and weight, which reduces aromatase activity, an enzyme involved in the production of estrogen
- Increasing exercise, which reduces both estrogen production and increases excretion
- Improving the gut and eliminating food sensitivities: Certain bad bacteria in the gut produce an enzyme called beta-glucoronidase, which allows estrogen to be recycled as opposed to excreted.
Why seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor for endometriosis:
- Hormone testing can be ordered through an ND to identify imbalances that may be contributing to symptoms.
- Naturopathic therapies may lead to improved hormone balance, decreased pain and fertility support.
- Treatment plans focus on the entire person, not just on endometriosis symptoms. Treatment may include supplements, acupuncture, and dietary or lifestyle changes. All supplements prescribed will be checked against current medications to ensure safety.
- Dietary and lifestyle changes may not only endometriosis symptoms, but may improve overall health in general.