What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful condition whereby parts of your uterine tissue grow outside of your uterus (like having a period from the wrong place). These endometrial lesions can grow anywhere in your body, but are most common in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel and bladder. They are sensitive to oestrogen so they bleed with your menstrual cycle causing heavy periods, pain and inflammation. Over time these bleeds can cause lesions and scarring.
- Period pain/cramps
- Pelvic pain
- Heavy and/or long periods
- IBS like symptoms
- UTI’s or bladder problems
- Bloating, gas
- Painful sex
- Inflammation – endometriosis is essentially an inflammatory condition. Inflammation usually starts in the gut(through underlying infections or food sensitivities).
- Autoimmune - endometriosis is thought to involve an overactive immune response, therefore classing it as an autoimmune disease more than a hormonal condition.
- Liver health – too many toxins, alcohol, medications or just poor clearance can affect oestrogen levels and toxins in the body, contributing to more inflammation.
- Diet – nutrient deficiencies or a diet with too much sugar, refined carbs, bad fats or processed foods can all increase inflammation.
- Hormone imbalance (exacerbates rather than causes) - endometriosis is exacerbated by excess oestrogen, which can cause cell proliferation, therefore making the condition worse.
- Surgery - surgical excision of the lesions is the conventional treatment, however many lesions can grow back within 5 years.
- Hormone suppression - the birth control pill or stronger medications are often used to suppress ovulation and oestrogen production, however this can have longer term consequences for brain and bone health.
As the condition is potentially caused by inflammation and worsened by high oestrogen levels, a hormone-balancing anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, supporting the liver and reducing environmental oestrogen exposure can all help to relieve symptoms until postmenopause, at which time the condition naturally dissipates.
- Diet - getting the right nutrients in your diet can hugely improve symptoms. Try;
- excluding dairy and gluten, which can help to reduce inflammation
- balancing your blood sugar to reduce excess insulin (and therefore reducing oestrogen and inflammation). Avoid sugar and refined carbs, eat plenty of protein and healthy fats at each meal, and reduce snacking between meals.
- avoiding alcohol (which can contribute to excess oestrogen)
- eating plenty of fibre and probiotic foods to support your gut
- eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, rocket etc) to help your liver detoxify excess oestrogen.
- Manage your Stress – too much cortisol from a stressful life or underlying stress on the body can disrupt hormones and gut function.
- prioritise daily relaxation to switch off your stress response and balance your cortisol
- mindfulness and meditation are great ways to do this
- replace nutrients that can be depleted by stress (Magnesium, Vitamin C, B Vitamins)
- Minimise Environmental Toxins - Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals can mess up your oestrogen balance and exacerbate symptoms.
- eat organic as much as possible to avoid pesticides
- swap your cleaning and laundry products to more natural brands
- avoid plastics such as BPA
- Supplements can help - although always check with your Dr if you are on any medication.
- Fish oils containing good levels of EPA/DHA - to reduce inflammation
- Multivitamin - with good levels of active vitamins and minerals
- Turmeric/Curcumin - can be very helpful for pain and inflammation
- Vitamin D3 & K2 - take together to support the immune system
- Magnesium Malate - helps with fatigue and stress
- Probiotics - can help to support gut health
- DIM - a good liver support
- Agnus Castus Vitex - can be helpful to support progesterone levels
If these steps don't improve symptoms, you may need to look further into your gut health to identify the specific cause of inflammation and/or auto-immune reaction.
Do get in touch with us to discuss our state of the art stool and hormone tests.
Hi, it's Nicki here from Happy Hormones For Life,
and today I want to talk about something
that's very underdiagnosed and underestimated,
and that's endometriosis.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month,
so it's a timely time to talk about this,
which actually affects way more women
than we would be led to believe.
It's estimated that around one in ten women
of reproductive age might be suffering from endometriosis,
and the problem is that many women go undiagnosed,
or they have to wait years for a proper diagnosis,
and often it's only recognized
if they have problems conceiving
because it's one of the top causes of infertility.
So, what is endometriosis?
Well, it's where
the uterine lining, the cells of the uterine lining,
grow outside of the uterus,
such as in the ovaries or the pelvic cavity,
but it can also be found elsewhere in the body,
most notable in the bowel or bladder,
or even the lungs sometimes.
It responds to your normal menstrual cycle,
so these cells bleed into the surrounding tissue,
which is not only very painful,
but over time it can cause lesions and scarring.
So, what are the symptoms?
Well, obviously pain.
Period pain, cramps, heavy and long periods,
IBS-like symptoms, as well.
You can get UTIs, incontinence
because the pelvic floor's affected,
bloating, gas, fatigue, and of course infertility,
and this is just a sample of the some
of the symptoms but they're the main ones.
What are the causes?
Well, there is a genetic
element to this, and there is new research
linking it to an autoimmune condition.
So, rather than being necessarily
a hormone-driven condition--
Well, it is hormone-driven,
but hormones may not be the actual cause.
It may be that it's an immune response causing inflammation.
So, genetic component, inflammation
mainly coming from the gut where we may have
underlying infections or food sensitivities,
and I'll talk about that in a sec.
Liver may be struggling as well,
so there may be too many chemicals,
toxins to deal with, maybe too much alcohol,
medications, or just poor clearance
where the estrogen levels are not cleared properly
from the body and they end up going round the body again
and causing more estrogen, and that can
exacerbate the symptoms of endometriosis.
Diet is another one.
If you have a very
inflammatory diet, so lots of sugar and carbs
and bad fats and processed foods,
these can all increase inflammation in the body,
which can make things worse, too,
and of course hormone imbalance.
So, you know, endometriosis is often driven by estrogen,
but often, like I said, that exacerbates the root cause
rather than causes it in the first place.
What's the medical approach?
Well, surgery is a common
treatment once you're diagnosed,
and often you might--
Or you might be prescribed
a birth control pill or something that suppresses ovulation,
but of course, you know,
these two things have their pros and cons,
(chuckling) and there are lots of ways
you can deal with endometriosis
and improve the symptoms naturally.
I'm gonna go through these now.
The first one is diet.
So, we want the most
anti-inflammatory diet we can get.
So, one of the things that has been proven
to exacerbate endometriosis and the symptoms is dairy,
because the casein, specifically the A1 casein in dairy,
has been linked with endometriosis and inflammation,
so taking dairy out can be a really helpful thing.
Gluten cross-reacts with dairy, too,
so if you do a gluten and dairy elimination for 30 days,
see how you get on with that.
That's often a very helpful thing to do for symptoms.
We want anti-inflammatory foods and blood sugar balancing,
because extra insulin, which we get a lot of
when we're eating a lot of carbs and sugar and alcohol,
lots of insulin around insulin is very inflammatory,
and that can cause your symptoms to get worse.
So, a blood sugar balancing diet,
lots of protein and healthy fats,
and lower refined carbs will help.
Trans fats, as well.
We don't want bad fats
or processed foods because they're
just going to increase inflammation.
The second thing to do is manage your stress.
We know cortisol has a big impact
on your hormones and your gut.
Now, if you have inflammation in the gut,
then cortisol and stress is just gonna make that worse.
The third thing to do is actually look after your gut,
so we want lots of probiotic foods and prebiotic foods,
and by that I mean probiotic foods,
live yogurts without the--
Kefir, kombucha, those kind of foods, sauerkraut,
with lots of healthy gut probiotics in there.
Prebiotic foods, things like onions, garlics,
garlic leeks, and green bananas that are not ripe,
and cold potatoes, all good prebiotics,
they feed your good bacteria.
And lots of fiber.
We want to be moving.
We want the bowel to be moving
and getting rid of all that excess estrogen.
Fourth thing to do naturally is look after your liver,
so we're looking at minimizing the chemicals,
especially those xenoestrogens,
the ones that can latch onto your estrogen
and increase your levels of estrogen generally in the body,
which is just gonna make things worse.
Alcohol is one of the things that
increases estrogen and inflammation,
so we really need to cut down on that.
It's gonna help your liver, too,
and eating lots of cruciferous veg,
those brassicas, those broccolis,
cauliflowers, cabbage, kale, rocket,
all those lovely veg that help to detox that extra estrogen.
Staying hydrated is incredibly important as well.
You want your liver to be able to get rid of things.
And lastly, supplements can be very helpful,
especially the anti-inflammatories.
So, we want to look at the fish oils, omega-3s,
so EPA and DHA are very important.
They're the omega-3s that work
most directly to reduce inflammation.
We want lots of vitamin D as an anti-inflammatory as well,
and it helps your immune system,
so if this is an autoimmune condition
we want lots of immune support.
Vitamin D is very good for that.
You want to get the vitamin D with K2 in it
because that's what makes it work so well.
A multivitamin with good active levels of B vitamins
and all your minerals, because zinc and selenium
are really important for your gut lining as well.
Curcumin is the active form
of turmeric, very important for
helping with inflammation and pain,
so if you get a nice, high-dose turmeric
or curcumin extract, that can help with pain,
as can magnesium in the form of malate.
Get magnesium malate for pain,
that really can help with that, too.
Probiotics are always helpful,
lactobacillus in particular for endometriosis.
DIM is a lovely supplement for helping the liver
get through that, get rid of that excess estrogen,
and you know, agnus-castus is a herb that is very helpful,
can be very helpful for increasing progesterone.
So, when you've got a lot of estrogen around,
you want your progesterone to be up and nicely balanced,
but you know, that works sometimes but not always.
So, with supplements, as always,
please check with your doctor or health practitioner
if you're on any medication or if you just generally
have a health condition and you just need to check.
Now, you may need to look further into gut health.
If those things you're already doing and everything's--
You know, you're doing all those lovely things
and it's still not working, you're still in pain,
you may need to look into gut health
to identify what's causing that inflammation,
and of course, you know, natural progesterone
can be very effective, but again,
that needs to be prescribed through a doctor,
so you'd need to get proper tests done for that.
If you'd like any further information on this
or you have any comments, come through,
comment in the box below,
and we can always arrange a private chat.