Though the discomfort may occur during a women’s monthly period, as the illness progresses, pain may be felt at other times of the month, too. The pain may radiate down the back and into the legs and may be associated with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Pain can be experienced in the following:
• Dysmenorrhea (strong pains during a period) when painkillers do not help and the woman cannot perform her daily activities.
• Dysparenunia, pain during sexual intercourse, which is described as burning or cramping.
• Pain in different parts of the lower abdomen that also occurs between periods.
• Feeling full, painful bowel movements, and bladder or bowel problems.
Endometriosis is still a fairly unknown disorder
Scientists still are not certain what might cause it, but there are a lot of theories including a defect affecting the hormones or immune system.
The mucous membrane lining the womb during a woman’s reproductive years thickens once a month. In women with Endometriosis, the endometrial tissue also grows in other parts of the body and are benign (non-cancerous) and reacts to the female sex hormones growing and shedding.
Because the secretions can’t be expelled through the vagina, they stay in the woman’s body. Scar tissue may form and grow together into adhesions, becoming inflamed or cysts may develop. This can be very painful and make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant, especially if her ovaries or fallopian tubes are affected.
The effects of Endometriosis on a woman’s quality of life may last for years.
Those who suffer must deal with multiple sick days, numerous doctor appointments, financial burdens from medical bills, emotional stress, and strained intimate relationships. In addition, the Endometriosis can keep coming back, so multiple surgeries are often necessary over a lifetime.
A 1998 survey sought to determine the prevalence of various autoimmune disorders, chronic pain, fatigue, and other conditions among members of the Endometriosis Association.
The researchers found that nearly 20% of the women with Endometriosis had one or more co-existing diseases. Of these women 31% had a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The survey also showed that Fibromyalgia was twice as common among women with Endometriosis as among women in the general population. (Sinaii et al, 2002)
Although the researchers were unable to confirm why these conditions appear to be related, they are now encouraging doctors to consider Endometriosis when evaluating their patients for either CFS or Fibromyalgia.
Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia share a number of common features.
Besides the widespread pain, both tend to affect women of reproductive age, have a genetic pattern, and tend to disrupt a busy lifestyle, forcing the person to accommodate their symptoms. Diagnosis is usually obtained only at the exclusion of other similar conditions.
Pain can be from any amount of endometrial cells accumulated outside the uterine cavity. A common myth is the more cells, the more pain, plus the disease does not have to be advanced to cause significant symptoms. Likewise, a higher stage disease may cause little to no symptoms in a woman.
What to do? Though there is no absolute cure, laparoscopic excision surgery is an effective, option, which is largely considered the gold standard of treatment. It removes all forms of the disease, restores normal organ placement and function, treats pain and even in advanced stages, infertility. Patients can expect much of their symptoms to disappear or be significantly reduced.
Other laparoscopic techniques include superficial removal such as ablation, cauterization, fulguration or vaporization. These involve the removal of Endometriosis on the surface of different tissues and organs in the pelvic region, but do not go as deeply into the tissues as laparoscopic incision, offering only temporary relief.
Hormonal treatments are also very familiar to those struggling with Endometriosis.
I endured agonizing pain from the onset of my first menstrual cycle at age 12. The heavy bleeding led me to become anemic for most of my life. I would will myself to sleep to escape the hellish cramps. Years later, my relief came in the form of a low-dose birth control pill! So simple, but I had to wait for a new doctor to arrive in town that was knowledgeable about Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia. I stayed on this prescription into my early 50’s without any of the unpleasant effects of menopause.
Taking oral contraceptive pills continuously suppresses menstruation and as a result may relieve many symptoms of Endometriosis, though they may recur when the woman stops taking the pills. I was able to tolerate the low-dose birth control pill with no negative side effects. Consult with your doctor if this is an option for you.
Other hormone treatments may include Gonadotropin-agonist medications such as nafarelin acetate (Synarel) and Depo Lupron to stop the ovaries from producing estrogen and produce a menopause-like state. Side effects include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. Treatment is usually limited to 6 months because it can lead to bone density loss. It may be extended up to 1 year in some cases.
Restoring adrenal function is a pre-requisite for hormonal balance.
The adrenals, the body’s shock absorbers, are the core of the endocrine stress response system. Two of the most important hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline deals primarily with short-term stress while cortisol is produced as a result of both acute and long-term stress.
One study involving 49 women found that cortisol levels were significantly higher in women with advanced endometriosis compared to women who didn’t have this condition.
Cortisol is also needed to make other hormones such as progesterone. Prolonged stress can lead to elevations in cortisol, which alternative practitioners say may decrease the available progesterone and result in an imbalance.
Progesterone, which is derived from either soy or Mexican wild yam, slows the growth of abnormal endometrial tissue.
Because there haven’t been any studies on progesterone cream for endometriosis, we don’t know for certain about its effectiveness or safety. Although not considered a cure, it may improve symptoms such as pain during menstrual periods and pelvic pain.
Natural progesterone cream is applied to the wrists, inner arms, inner thighs, or upper chest. Remember, though, it’s important to be supervised and to have progesterone levels monitored on lab tests,
Individuals who suspect adrenal exhaustion can determine whether the body is producing healthy levels of adrenal hormones through proper testing. Cortisol levels can be measured with a saliva test that collects at least four samples over 24 hours.
Nutrients that have special importance to the adrenals:
The important nutrients for the health of the adrenal glands are the B vitamins (especially B5), vitamin C, proteins, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, plant enzymes, adaptagenic herbs, adrenal extracts and the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. or to keep it simple,wild blue-green algae. Rest also helps rebuild the adrenals.
There is evidence that a group of plant chemicals called flavones can inhibit aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens. Good food sources of flavones are celery and parsley. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Bussels sprouts, and bok choy, contain compounds called indoles, which appear to improve estrogen metabolism. Flaxseeds are high in lignans and fiber, which have been found to be beneficial for estrogen-related conditions.
Pain can be exacerbated by bacterial overgrowth.
The intestinal microflora provide a strong defense against intestinal pathogens, and may be altered in inflammatory conditions that impact the gut, such as endometriosis.
***Disruption of the innate microflora may ultimately result in increased susceptibility to infectious diseases.
A study by the Woman’s Hospital of Texas examined 50 women with endometriosis and found that 40 women showed bacterial overgrowth. After eight weeks of treatment, there was a significant reduction in symptoms. http://ow.ly/gqlq4
When choosing a probiotic, natures anti-biotic, be very particular which brand you choose if you want to experience positive results. There are many on the market today to choose from. …..click here for some tips on choosing a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Although earlier studies in women were conflicting, there is increasing evidence that chronic exposure to the environmental chemicals dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is associated with an increased prevalence and severity of endometriosis.
Dioxin and PCBs both accumulate in animal fat and it is our main route of exposure.
An Italian study examined data from 504 women with Endometriosis and found an increased risk with a high intake of red meat and ham.
One way to reduce intake of these chemicals is to cut back on animal fat, especially high-fat dairy, red meat, and fish. Also, remember.afa blue green algae assists in ridding the body of toxins. Fresh fruit and vegetables were also associated with a reduction in risk.
An animal study by the University of Western Ontario found that fish oil containing two specific compounds, EPA and DHA, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, found in cold water fish, can relieve pain by decreasing levels of an inflammatory chemical called prostaglandin E2.
Researchers also found that fish oil could slow the growth of endometrial tissue. (http://ow.ly/gmps9)
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and blue-green algae.
Herbs and supplements recommended for stress relief include ashwagandha, B-Complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Calcium is necessary for the proper absorption of magnesium. When taking these supplements it should be on a calcium magnesium ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. Other beneficial supplements include vitamin E, folic acid, and selenium.
Herbs that support the liver and digestive system are goldenseal, dandelion, artichoke, milk thistle, and burdock, while xanthoxylon, ocotillo, goldenseal, and witch hazel improve pelvic circulation. Ginger tea may be effective in relieving the nausea associated with endometriosis.
Hydrotherapy is also recommended by many alternative practitioners.
Instead of relying on pain relievers, there are other natural alternatives that will relieve pain, such as crampbark, black haw, valerian, and wild yam. Or, keep it simple.
I am spreading the word about this amazing super-food!
Today, besides being an active grandmother, I am a volunteer with several community organizations and I love spreading the word of this amazing super food – blue-green algae.
To read more about my journey living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia – click here.