Endometriosis has been called a silent disease. Why? Most women diagnosed with endometriosis suffer silently before seeking treatment. They tell themselves: Pain is “normal” during menstruation or sexual intercourse. The average diagnosis age is 27, telling us these women have needlessly tolerated pain and suffering for more than 10 years.
March was endometriosis awareness month. We believe early education is key to avoiding needless pain. With this in mind, we’re devoting this week’s post to all things endometriosis. We’ll discuss causes, symptoms and how to find relief from endometriosis. Let’s get started.
What is Endometriosis?
Sadly, endometriosis is frequently undetected, untreated, and misdiagnosed. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, at least 5.5 million women in the United States have endometriosis.
Endometriosis can develop anytime during a woman’s reproductive years and since its symptoms are often mistaken as stemming from other issues, it is only definitively diagnosed by surgical biopsy.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue normally found inside the uterus is found outside the uterus. This may sound like no big deal, but the expelled endometrial tissue cells migrate into different areas of the body and implant themselves on organs and tissue. The tissue grows, causing pain, inflammation and sometimes, infertility.
What Causes Endometriosis?
No one is certain what causes endometriosis. However, some researchers believe that genetics, a dysfunctional immune system, hormonal imbalance, and environmental factors may all be contributing factors. Here are two of the most popular theories:
- The Yeast Theory. Some practitioners believe that an overgrowth of yeast (Candida albicans) is linked to endometriosis. In documented cases, women who took the necessary steps to overcome yeast overgrowth, reversed symptoms of endometriosis. These steps invloved eliminating sugar (yeast feeds off sugar) avoiding yeast-containing foods, and using probiotics to reestablish healthy flora in the gastrointestinal system.
- The Hormone Theory. The overuse of hormones has become a big concern in the United States. Labels lobby to get your attention saying “no artificial growth hormones.” Dioxins, a by-product of many manufacturing processes,accumulate in food sources such as meat, dairy and fish. Dioxins have long been established as significant hormone disrupters. So it’s not surprising they would be linked to endometriosis – a hormone-related disease. For more information on how estrogen is linked to fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis and breast cancer please click here.BPA has received alot of attention in recent years. That’s because anything that mimics or disrupts normal hormone activity wreaks havoc on our bodies. In fact, phthalates and bisphenols commonly found in plastics, pesticides and insecticidesare thought to contribute to endometriosis by jeapordizing a healthy hormone balance. These disruptions to our hormones are a real danger for our health.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Pain is the most predominant symptom of endometriosis. Sadly, women are often ignored when they complain about pain associated with menstruation.
Let’s be clear: SEVERE pain is NOT normal, not during menstruation – not ever! The pain associated with endometriosis is more severe than menstrual cramps – it can be debilitating. The words used to describe it have included dull, persistent, deep, burning, stabbing, grinding or gnawing pain. The pain may be accompanied by nausea, intestinal cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or dizziness.
The nature and intensity of the pain associated with endometriosis can vary. Pain might be intermittent or continuous in nature. Pain typically occurrs before and during menstruation, as well as during or after sexual activity.
Endometriois Relief: Hormones
In his book Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone, Dr. John R. Lee wrote of his success in treating patients with progesterone. Patients with mild to moderate endometriosis were prescribed bio-identical progesterone from day 10 to day 26 of their cycle, increasing the dose until their pelvic pain diminishes.
They continued the hormone therapy for three to five years gradually weaning off progesterone. The progesterone treatment considerably reduced menstrual flow, allowing the body to heal endometriosis lesions. Reportedly, none of Dr. Lee’s patients had to resort to surgery when following the treatment regimen.
The most important step in relief is being honest with yourself and your doctor. Do not dismiss your pain as normal. Find a doctor who will listen to you and is committed to getting results. Endometriosis, though painful, doesn’t have to take over your life. Dietary changes and bio identical hormone therapy can help you take back your life.
Need help deciding if hormone therapy is for you? As a compounding pharmacy specializing in bio identical-hormone therapy, we will be happy to help you find the pain relief you need. Contact us today.