Living with Endometriosis
All About Endometriosis
As if monthly periods and having a baby weren’t hard enough, many women of reproductive age also suffer from a gynecological condition that causes all sorts of issues – reproductive and otherwise – called endometriosis.
About 6.5 million in the U.S. have endometriosis and this condition affects about 10 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 40. When a woman has endometriosis, the tissue which lines her uterus begins to grow outside the uterus in areas including fallopian tubes, ovaries, and even the bladder or intestines.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis may cause painful cramping during menstruation, abnormal or heavy periods, and even pain or discomfort during sex.
The extra tissue (called endometriosis implants) is impacted by changes in the hormone estrogen. Just like during menstruation, this tissue can grow and bleed.
When it begins to shed, the process causes inflammation and irritation wherever it has grown, plus it can also create scar tissue called adhesions. This perfect storm of inflammation, bleeding, and scarring can cause a great deal of pain in a woman, especially around her time of the month.
Endometriosis is linked to infertility as well. Nearly 40 percent of women with the condition have infertility issues. The inflammation it causes can harm sperm or the egg. This excess tissue can block the fallopian tubes themselves.
Women, who are more likely to get endometriosis, may fit a certain pre-condition. These include longer-lasting periods, shorter menstrual cycles, they’ve never had a baby, or they have a family member with the condition.
The medical community has not yet determined an exact cause of endometriosis but there are several possible causes for the disease. Retrograde menstrual flow is among the most likely causes. With this condition instead of leaving the body, when a woman's uterine lining sheds during menstruation, the shedding tissue travels through the fallopian tube into other parts of the body.
Immune system complications including autoimmune disorders or certain cancers may cause endometriosis. The reason? A compromised immune system may not get rid of endometrial tissue that's growing in the wrong place in the body.
Another possible cause is man-made. During surgery like a c-section or a hysterectomy, endometrial tissue can accidentally be moved within the body.
Hormones also play a part and estrogen may actually promote endometriosis. That’s why eating an anti-inflammatory diet is key to keeping symptoms at bay.
Anti-inflammatory Diet is Key
You may be able to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis significantly when you eliminate foods that cause inflammation or raise estrogen levels. Foods to avoid are caffeine and alcohol since these can increase estrogen levels. You also want to avoid refined sugars since they can have a negative impact on your body as a whole.
The anti-inflammatory properties of Mediterranean and Paleo diets make them ideal. These diets include vegetables, plant-based proteins, lean meats, and healthy fats like olives and olive oil, certain nuts, salmon, and other fatty fish.
Without a clearly determined cause or a cure, endometriosis is a condition that women are forced to live with. But the good news is that you can work with a practitioner to find the right balance of health and alleviate some painful symptoms.
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The content on heartroothealth.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.