Over the past 5 years we have seen an encouraging public awareness campaign highlighting the prevalence and complexities of endometriosis in Australia.
Rightfully so as 10% of reproductive aged women are diagnosed during their life with endometriosis. (Endometriosis Australia)
In this two part series I explain what endometriosis is and how you can manage the condition in an integrative way.
What is endometriosis?
En-doe-me-tree-O-sis is a debilitating body-wide inflammatory and immune dysregulatory condition which sees endometrial like tissue to grow outside of your uterus (where it is meant to be). Endometrial tissue may grow on the exterior surface of or deep within the muscle tissue of the ovaries, bowel, bladder or pelvis etc.
Immune dysfunction is what prevents the immune system from clearing up endometrial lesions; exaggerates local inflammation and angiogenesis and facilitates endometriosis growth.
Estrogen on the other hand when raised will progress the condition but is not the cause of the condition. This is now why we view endometriosis as more than just a gyneacological condition. Estrogen can worsen endometriosis via it's involvement in promoting histamine creation but also via its role in thickening the endometrium and endometrial like tissue.
What are the.symptoms of endometriosis?
Endometriosis can present with severe and debilitating symptoms particularly a heavy and painful menstrual bleed. However it must be known that a women can present without either symptom and still have severe endometriosis. This makes diagonsis challenging but not impossible. If you have any of the following symptoms you may have endometriosis
Painful periods - Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into your period and may include lower back and abdominal pain
Pelvic pain and cramping outside of menstruation time
Pain with bowel movements or urination -You're most likely to experience these symptoms during your period
Excessive bleeding -You may experience occasional heavy periods or bleeding between periods
Infertility - Endometriosis is first diagnosed in some women who are seeking treatment for infertility
IBS like symptoms - Diarrhoea, constipation, loading, nausea. Especially during menstrual periods
Pain with intercourse
"It’s like someone poured superglue into the pelvis, and organs that normally are free to move around are, all of a sudden, just stuck"
Keith Isaacson, gynaecologist and surgeon at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, in Massachusetts
Who can help me manage my endometriosis?
First things first, it’s research time. Spend some time researching specialists and health professionals in your local area who have an interest in treating endometriosis. Once you have found 2-3 you can get a start to putting together a team of experts who will guide you through the management of your endometriosis. Your team of experts may include your doctor, a gynaecologist, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a counsellor or meditation guru, and in some cases a Chinese medical practitioner and a physiotherapist. These are the professions who will help tailor your management plan now and long term.
This step is arguably the most important one as you cannot nor should not be expected to manage the condition yourself. You may also choose to read up on endometriosis and other peoples stories, this is a great way to feel comfortable with the condition and what to expect. Here is a non-exhaustive list of health care practitioners and support for Sydney based women:
Your Support Team
Naturopath - Jennifer Ward, Halsa health
Peter Scarselletti acupuncturist, Tonika health
Fertility Specialist & Gynaecologist and - Dr Natasha Andreadis
Meditation 10 week Course - Meditation Sanctuary
Pelvic floor specialist - Heba Shaheed
Support and further Education - Endometriosis Australia
Prof. Jason Abbot - Surgeon, Alana Healthcare
Jennifer Ward Adv Dip Nat, Bcom Econ
Jennifer is a qualified naturopath trained in herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and health coaching. Consultations available by appointment.
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