Endometriosis is a condition where tissues can thicken, often outside of the uterus.
Usually during the menstrual cycle, the uterus naturally thickens (endometrium) and for some people this also grows in other areas outside of the uterus such as the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. When this tissue is misplaced, it still responds to the hormones in the same way as if it were in the uterus and can thicken at certain times of the month.
However, tissue outside of the uterus cannot pass out of the vagina like the tissue in the uterus would do during a period and so it is trapped, causing pain and inflammation. Scar tissue may occur and stick one organ to another or even cysts can form on the ovaries which can cause bleeding at other times in the menstrual cycle and can lead to infertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis:
- Painful and or heavy periods
- Painful intercourse
- Pain during urination or bowel movements
- Spotting between menstrual cycles
- Lower back (pelvic) and abdominal pain
What causes endometriosis?
The root cause of endometriosis is not yet known but there is certainly a strong genetic link within families. It is known that there is a strong link to infertility if menstruation starts early and pregnancies are later in life. Also, if a woman has never given birth the risk factor is increased. There are other suggested theories;
One is that menstrual flow gets ‘backed up’ into the Fallopian tubes and pelvic cavity during menstruation causing the tissue to grow outside of the uterus. Another suggestion is that some cells in the pelvic cavity can grow into endometrial cells usually due to toxins or hormonal influence. Thirdly, the immune system is supposed to ensure that a certain bodily tissue only grows in its specific location and nowhere else. Therefore, it is important to consider the immune system as part of this picture and to help it function correctly.
Endometriosis can only be diagnosed with a laparoscopy which is where a camera is inserted into the pelvis to look for signs of endometriosis.
There is no cure for endometriosis so the medical approach is to manage symptoms which can include; painkillers to manage pain, hormonal therapy like the oral contraceptive pill to try and address hormonal imbalances. Sometimes laser surgery can be used to remove some of the deposits, but this is not a cure and often the growth can return.
Things you can do:
- Eliminate inflammatory foods – foods can contribute to the pain of inflammation such as coffee, smoking, sugar, citrus, gluten, soy, dairy, vegetable oils.
- Eat more anti-inflammatory foods – these are foods high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids including oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies and herring and nuts such as walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and eggs enriched with omega 3. Herbs such as turmeric and ginger root also have significant anti-inflammatory properties. You can use them in cooking, smoothies and as teas.
- Foods high in magnesium help to reduce pain – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans, almonds, spinach, chard.
- Try acupuncture – a safe and well tolerated approach to help manage pelvic pain.
What can Functional Medicine do to support?
- Use functional testing to determine hormonal balance and use foods, supplements, and herbs to support better hormonal balance.
- Include foods and supplements to reduce inflammation and remove foods that promote inflammation.
- Support liver detoxification pathways using food and herbs.
- Support the gut immune system to modulate inflammation and support a healthy immune response.
5 Pillars of Functional Medicine
Endometriosis and Functional Medicine
Do you suffer from endometriosis and have tried all the usual approaches?
Functional Medicine can help you, simply book an online consultation or arrange a free 15 minute discovery call and ﬁnd out how we can help.