Endometriosis is a condition where small parts of tissue (that are similar to our uterine lining) grow in places other than our uterus. These tissue parts are called endometriosis lesions and can grow in many different areas of the body such as the bladder or bowel. More commonly, tissues can be found in surrounding areas of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and pouch of Douglas.
Researchers don’t exactly know yet when what causes endometriosis, so there are no specific characteristics or biomarkers to follow when diagnosing endometriosis. There are some common myths and misconceptions out there surrounding endometriosis, so let us debunk some of these for you:
It is not the endometrium - it’s endometrium like tissue.
It does not cause irregular menstruation.
It is not caused by oestrogen dominance.
A hysterectomy will not cure endometriosis.
Pregnancy does not ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ endometriosis.
Pain doesn’t suggest what stage of endometriosis - staging is based on how
prolific and wide spread the lesions are.
Endometriosis is not a hormonal condition.
Endometriosis is not something you ate or did wrong - it is not a lifestyle disease. Despite not knowing the exact cause of endometriosis, we know the immune system plays a huge role in how these lesions grow and develop. Our immune system produces autoantibodies and inflammatory cytokines that inflame the lesions and promote their growth. Symptoms that can manifest as a result from this include:
Severe pelvic cramping
Pain during sex
Pain and bleeding between periods
Pelvic pain during ovulation
Urination and bowel pain
IBS - Constipation/Diarrhoea
SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
Depression or anxiety
Low iron status
What does my gut have to do with it?
Well, our immune system predominantly lives in our gut - 70% to be exact. Anything that negatively triggers your digestion, will impact your immune system and cause more inflammatory cytokines to produce. Which we now know, endometriosis is primarily an immune dysfunction condition. Gut symptoms including bloating, constipation and diarrhoea affect up to 90% of women with endometriosis, so looking after our gut microflora is essential for relieving symptoms!
Estrogen and progesterone
Estrogen enhances the growth of endometriosis lesions, which is why conventional medicine focuses on shutting down oestrogen all together. This can have an array of health issues alone but it’s important to note - estrogen does not cause endometriosis. Supporting progesterone will help slow down the growth of lesions.
Currently the only method of diagnosing endometriosis is by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. Endometriosis cannot be ruled out by ultrasound as it does not detect lesions. However, it can sometimes detect endometriomas (a more severe form of endometriosis) called deep infiltrating endometriosis.
How a Clinical Nutritionist can help you
Though we are still researching ways to cure endometriosis, there are still natural treatments available to relieve symptoms. We want to be focusing on..
1. Reducing inflammation
2. Supporting progesterone
3. Metabolising estrogen
Eat zinc rich foods: oysters, red meat, chicken, and legumes.
Eat magnesium rich foods: Dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews and legumes.
Eat selenium rich foods: Brazil nuts, mushrooms, yellowfin tuna, sardines and turkey.
Fatty fish: salmon, herring, cod, sardines and mackerel.
Avoid A1 dairy (cow’s milk).
Avoid refined sugars. Lifestyle
Adopt stress management techniques.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Limit alcohol intake.
A Holistic Approach to Endometriosis
Diet is the most important factor in treating endometriosis naturally. Our Clinical Nutritionists look at reducing inflammatory cytokines using food and potential supplementation. We also look at supporting the gut and immune system as apart of our treatment protocol to keep your symptoms under control and manageable.