Endometriosis is becoming increasingly common and is one of the issues our patients most commonly seek help for. It occurs when the endometrial tissue (inside of the uterus) grows outside of the uterine cavity. Endometrial tissue is hormonally active, which means that under the influence of your hormones during your menstrual cycle the endometriosis lesions will proliferate and shed (bleed), causing pain and inflammation. In addition to this, over time this inflammatory process can lead to scarring and adhesions which can cause more discomfort and pain.
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis however some women do have the condition and do not experience pain. It is not known why this is, and pain levels do not necessarily relate to the amount or severity of endometriosis either.
What causes endometriosis?
There are several theories about how endometriosis occurs, however, we don’t have a concrete answer yet. Originally, it was thought that retrograde menstruation was to blame, however, the presence of endometriosis in places like the joints and diaphragm have made researchers look elsewhere. Here’s what we do know.
Your fallopian tubes have a space between them and the ovaries, which can allow menstrual blood to flow backwards, up the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. Since most endometriosis occurs in the pelvic cavity, most commonly on the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the pouch of Douglas it’s likely that retrograde menstruation has a big role in endometriosis development.
Studies have shown that the immune cells in women with endometriosis differ from the normal population. The immune theory hypothesises that if the immune system was functioning normally then the endometrial cells should not be allowed to grow there in the first place, as the body would ‘clean’ them up. There is also a mounting body of evidence that shows that endometriosis may be autoimmune in nature. Watch this space.
Women with endometriosis have been found to have high oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is a driving factor in endometriosis – making the tissue proliferate and worsen endometriosis growth. When we screen our endometriosis patients for all 3 types of oestrogen and their metabolites, we find the majority of women to have high levels of oestrogen and also more ‘proliferative’ 4-OH oestrogen metabolites.
The inflammation that is produced by endometriosis drives further inflammation and tissue damage. The high levels of inflammatory cells can perpetuate inflammation and lead to more scarring and adhesions over time.
Can you treat endometriosis naturally?
We have helped hundreds of women with endometriosis. Natural treatment aims to address the issues outlined above – supporting healthy menstruation, reducing inflammation, clearing excess oestrogen and improving immune regulation.
The important thing to remember is that you will have the best success with beating or managing your endometriosis if you use naturopathy and/or acupuncture concurrently in addition to laparoscopic surgery. Treatment natural therapies alone may assist some patients with very mild endometriosis to manage pain and support healing, however as endometriosis is pervasive to the tissue and easily proliferated, in our experience surgery is necessary to remove the endometriosis while the herbs and nutritional support can help prevent it from coming back.
How do I stop my endometriosis from coming back?
Laparoscopic removal of endometriosis usually helps the condition, however for the majority of patients the endometriosis will return over time and further surgery can be needed later in life, whether that be months or (usually) years down the track. From working with hundreds of patients with this condition we have found that the best success occurs when you receive naturopathic treatment for 2-3 months prior to surgery and also afterwards. The idea is that we want to return oestrogen levels to normal, reduce inflammation, have your immune system nice and healthy and have your period flowing free before surgery, so that the driving factors that may cause it to return are taken care of.
How do I choose who to see?
Seeing a naturopath first is a good idea, as they will assess all of the potential driving factors behind your endometriosis. Our naturopaths can also order blood and salivary tests to look at your hormone levels and other factors. You can then choose acupuncture
How do I make an appointment?
To make an appointment with a naturopath to look at your endometriosis call Brisbane Natural Health on 07 3367 0337 or book online using the link below.