Natural Solutions for
If you suffer from endometriosis, you are not alone. More than 6.5 Million other women are suffering from the same problem. In addition to the physical misery endometriosis causes, it's also a major of cause of infertility and is one of the most common reasons women undergo a hysterectomy.
One major reason endometriosis is such a big problem is because it's difficult to diagnose. In fact, endometriosis mimics so many other medical conditions that many health care practitioners don't even consider it as a diagnosis in most women. According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, women with endometriosis suffer from symptoms for at least 10 years before they are correctly diagnosed. For many, that's too late to save their uterus and ovaries.
This article will offer a brief explanation of endometriosis, how it acts, and how it's diagnosed. BUT, most importantly, I will review some scientifically proven non-conventional alternatives to birth control and/or surgery. None of the endometriosis patients I've worked with were ever told about these other options!
We still don’t completely understand how endometriosis develops, but the majority of doctors believe it’s caused by backwards flow of blood during a woman's menstrual cycle. So, instead of the blood going out of the uterus, it goes up and out the fallopian tubes and ultimately enters into the abdomen and pelvis.
Once these cells (that normally live inside the uterus) end up in the abdomen and pelvis (where they're not supposed to be), they turn to the 'dark side'. They quit playing by the rules and create clever ways to live long and prosper. The immune system doesn't take kindly to the behavior of the endometriosis cells...and the battle is on!
Endometriosis cells are NOT normal cells. In fact, even though they are not associated with cancer, they act just like cancer cells. They can:
Grow their own blood vessels
Create chemicals which make it easier for them to stick to other organs and tissues
Make their own estrogen
Avoid getting caught and killed by the immune system.
Endometriosis: The Basics
Endometriosis: The Great Masquerader
As endometriosis cells spread, they cause damage and inflammation to other tissues and organs. The most common symptoms women experience when endometriosis affects the uterus and ovaries are heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent menstrual cycles, and/or painful menstrual cramps. As it spreads, it can also cause low back pain, ovarian cysts, infertility, pelvic pain, painful urination, and pain with sexual intercourse.
But, it doesn't stop there...
If left unchecked, endometriosis cells can spread and attach to literally any organ in the abdomen and pelvis...bladder, intestines, stomach, liver, gall bladder, and even the diaphragm (the muscle below the lungs that assists with breathing).
Gastrointestinal endometriosis can present as symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation, bloody stools, diarrhea, vomiting, and/or painful bowel movements. If it attaches around lung tissues, chest pain, coughing up blood or even lung collapse can occur.
These are only a few conditions women with endometriosis are misdiagnosed with:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Intestinal infections (parasites, yeast, etc)
Inflammatory bowel disease
Chronic pelvic pain syndrome
The Two Sides to Endometriosis
There are TWO main factors that fuel the growth of endometriosis cells: Estrogen and inflammation.
Conventional medical treatment mainly focuses on getting the estrogen under control…usually with some type of oral hormone, like birth control pills, or removal of the ovaries. BUT...
These methods NEVER focus on correcting the inflammatory component of endometriosis which is just as big of a problem.
Unless estrogen dominance and inflammation are BOTH corrected, endometriosis can continue to grow and spread. In fact, in the majority of women, even birth control pills will eventually quit working. If that happens, the only other option doctors can offer is a complete hysterectomy. BUT...
Here's what doctors DON'T tell their patients...
A complete hysterectomy, especially if done in women 40 years of age or younger, has it’s own laundry list of associated health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease.
Not only that, but:
20% and 40% of women will experience recurrent endometriosis within five years of their initial surgery
Up to 15% of women who’ve had a complete hysterectomy suffer from recurrent endometriosis.
Endometriosis is Elusive
Endometriosis cells can grow and stick to any tissue and organ inside the abdomen and pelvis. The lesions are sometimes visible but more often are too small to see, especially if they are hidden in tissues. This is a major reason why diagnosing endometriosis is very difficult until it has grown and spread.
Currently, the most definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is with laparoscopic surgery. However, depending on the size and location of the endometriosis lesions, even this procedure can miss endometriosis, especially if it's in its early stages of growth.
This graphic shows some of the other tests available to assist in diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is no blood test to help with diagnosing endometriosis. However, an elevated CA-125 is often found in women with endometriosis. BUT, a negative test results doesn't rule out the diagnosis.
Natural Ways to Control Endometriosis
There is good news for women who suffer from endometriosis….
...Mirena IUD, birth control pills, and surgery are NOT the only options, especially if endometriosis is still in its early stages.
Here are just SOME of the other ways to keep endometriosis in check:
Maintain a healthy body weight. Fat cells not only produce extra estrogen, they also produce at least 32 different types of chemicals that increase inflammation...and, increased inflammation is like pouring gas on the endometriosis fire.
Minimize intake of inflammatory foods. Foods that contain sugar, artificial sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup), and trans fats create A LOT of inflammation once they pass your lips. Additionally, all meat (especially red meat), except wild caught fish and lamb, have high levels of arachidonic acid which is a very potent inflammatory chemical. Elimination of alcohol and caffeine are also important in reducing inflammation.
Maintain optimal gut health. Much of the estrogen produced by the body is eliminated through stool. Therefore, constipation can indirectly create estrogen dominance which will fuel endometriosis. The bacteria living in the colon are also important for the proper metabolism and disposal of estrogen. The ideal frequency of bowel movements is at least one, formed bowel movement per day. Taking a high potency, broad spectrum probiotic daily is an absolute must in women with endometriosis. I recommend Xymogen Probiomax Daily 100 BCFU capsules once daily.
Work with a competent health care provider who knows how to properly prescribe bioidentical progesterone. A major point of confusion among patients and health care providers alike is the difference between progestins and progesterone...and there are MAJOR differences! Unlike progestins which are found in all forms of birth control and in the Mirena IUD, progesterone is identical to the natural progesterone made in the ovaries.
Most conventional doctors are unfamiliar with how to prescribe bioidentical progesterone for women with endometriosis. It is very important that women work only with someone who has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the complexity of endometriosis and the proper use of progesterone in this condition.
Consider adding some scientifically proven natural alternatives to birth control pills. Just because doctors don't offer them as options doesn't mean natural supplements don't help control endometriosis. In fact, extensive scientific research has shown that there are many supplements will help slow/stop the growth of endometriosis and help to control many or all of the symptoms. Some of these supplements include Omega 3, Quercetin, Curcumin (I recommend Xymogen Curcuplex 95), and Vitamin D are just a few of the supplements found to be useful in controlling endometriosis. Others include Chasteberry, low dose naltrexone (prescription), Berberine, and those listed in the chart below.