Endometriosis has been diagnosed in approximately 12 million women in the United States alone and is one of the leading causes of infertility. It causes debilitating pain and decreases a woman’s quality of life. Some of the most basic lifestyle changes can severely aggravate the symptoms associated with endometriosis. Are you making your symptoms worse without even knowing it?
In order to understand how we can create a positive change with this disorder we first need to know what it is. Endometriosis is a condition where normal cells from inside the uterus (endometrial cells) are growing in other areas, usually in the abdominal cavity.
Endometrial cells react to the normal cyclical changes of hormones found in a woman’s body. They grow a lining that then sheds if you do not become pregnant. These cells react to the specific hormonal changes both in the uterus or outside of the uterus. Endometrial cells will also grow a lining and bleed inside the abdominal cavity causing a strong inflammatory reaction. This is what causes all the pain and problems associated with endometriosis.
This can be an extremely stubborn and difficult disease to treat. Many women resort to daily medications or surgery to help. Unfortunately, these treatments are often short lasting leaving women frustrated and lost on how to improve their condition.
Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes women with endometriosis make and what they can do to improve their situation.
MISTAKES AND HOW TO IMPROVE
Taking the Birth Control Pill To Help Endometriosis:
Many doctors suggest taking the birth control pill continuously (no period) for multiple months. This stops the period from coming and if no period, then in most cases no pain. The problem with this mode of treatment is it doesn’t solve or help treat the cause, the endometriosis! It only stops you from getting your period. As soon as women stop taking the birth control pill and their periods return the pain and other symptoms also return. For women who are wanting to get pregnant, this obviously isn’t a good option either.
Not Pursuing Other Options besides Surgery or Drugs:
Endometriosis sufferers are generally treated with pain medications or more evasive surgeries. Unfortunately, they are rarely told of other options by their doctors. Women often find themselves in my office after years of strong painkilling medications or multiple laparoscopic surgeries. They were not aware of other treatment options. The good news is, endometriosis has several amazingly effective treatments that doctors are not properly educated about. There is more and more research now pointing towards Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and natural supplements being viable treatment options for even the most severe endometriosis conditions. These less-known treatment options can be used alone or combined with the more commonly used drugs and surgery approach. If you are suffering from endometriosis and have not pursued any other type of treatment you can find relief.
Could Your Morning Muffin Make Your Endometriosis Worse?
Although not likely the cause of endometriosis the food we eat can often aggravate this condition. By limiting some very common foods such as gluten can show a remarkable improvement. One of the most common steps in my treatment plan for women with endometriosis is to help them identify some of the triggers in their diet. By eliminating these foods women can notice a significant improvement within 1 month of starting. If you have period pain and have switched to an anti-inflammatory diet you are missing a big piece of the puzzle.
What Happens When You Keep Taking Pain Medication?
The pain associated with endometriosis can make popping pain pills the norm. What are these medications doing to your body? Women who take medications such as Aleve or Voltaren for only 10 days during the first part of their cycles decrease the chances of ovulation by 70-90%. This is a significant finding for anyone trying to get pregnant! A 70-90% reduction in ovulation is almost an effective type of birth control!
Even if you are not trying to conceive long-term use of these pain medications can cause health problems. Liver and kidney failure are just 2 examples of what long-term use of these medications can cause. If your treatment plan for endometriosis is taking pain medications you could be setting yourself up for bigger health problems than just period pain.
Do Nothing – Not Treating Endometriosis
If you suffer from painful periods and tough it out through the other discomforts associated with endometriosis you may be doing more damage. Endometriosis is a progressive disease and generally intensifies with time. This means in most women it gets worse if no action is taken. Untreated endometriosis slowly spreads to new areas and can create “islands” of affected tissue on different organs. Over time, these endometrial “islands” can grow into the organ they have landed on.
When looking at all your options for endometriosis and the treatments available there are several different options to choose from. As mentioned above most of the commonly used approaches are far from a perfect treatment and most are associated with side effects.
All the best as you choose the best treatment for your individual condition.