Endometriosis is a painful debilitating chronic condition. It is often misdiagnosed for years. Discomfort and suffering might range from mild to severe. Some are told it’s just bad cramps or periods and to just “deal with it”.
But endometriosis is very real and needs a multi-modal approach to healing and managing symptoms.
For the fortunate who do not experience this condition, let’s define endometriosis.
The endometrium cells line the uterus. Sometimes these endometrium cells are fond outside of the uterus and start to grow. Those cells are then targeted by the body’s immune system and set up an inflammatory response that leads to autoimmunity and dysfunction. Endo is not a hormonal issue BUT causes hormonal imbalances. Estrogen helps build up the lining of your uterus to allow for an optimal environment for a baby to grow. So, when estrogen is high, endometrial cells grow rapidly. Unfortunately, this tissue grows whether, it is located inside the uterus or outside on your bladder. ☹
- Pain| Can be anywhere all month long or only during cycles or ovulation
- Chronic digestive issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Can coincide with other autoimmune conditions (Endo itself isn’t consider autoimmune, but it runs in the same crowd with others)
Resolving estrogen dominance is a big part of management of symptoms. And….resolving gut issues because they go hand in hand.
Let’s start with a few myths:
- Birth control will resolve endometriosis. It does not cure endometriosis. This is a band-aid approach and endo keeps progressing.
- A hysterectomy will cure endometriosis. Remember from above, endo cells are found outside of the uterus. Therefore, these cells will continue to grow.
- Endometriosis is only found in the pelvis. Endo cells can be found anywhere in the body.
For those of you with endo, you may have endo cells in you GI tract, bladder, pelvis and all the way up towards the diaphragm. Sex is painful, urinating is painful, and so are bowel movements.
It affects your quality of life.
Your pain can be everywhere and at times hard to pinpoint.
You can have severe pain during your cycle that cause you to miss work or cancel social situations.
You have experienced pain for so long that your nervous is upregulated and everything hurts!
So, where to start??
Remember, this is a multi-factorial treatment. You need a good healthcare team.
- Endo specialist (includes GI, urologist if needed)
- Registered dietitian nutritionist with experience in endo care
- Pelvic floor therapist experienced in endo care
- Mental health therapist
- Pain management
These are just a few recommendations. It may seem like a lot, but endo affects the whole body and depending on where endo has landed, you need assistance in that area.
As a functional medicine dietitian, we focus on reducing the inflammation, autoimmune dysfunction, and detoxing estrogen.
Functional Nutrition Approach:
**If you have endo, you already have inflammation. Pro-inflammatory foods will exacerbate it.**
- Resolve gut Issues| These go hand in hand. We like to use several techniques and smart testing. GI Map is a great place to start to understand you gut microbiome. Also, we need to make sure you are pooping regularly and rule out SIBO. We spend a lot of time working through GI issues.
- Trial run of removing dairy and gluten
- If you have painful bladder syndrome (PBS) | remove irritants like tomatoes, coffee, citrus fruits, chocolate, green tea
- Diet| Anti-inflammatory diet
- Your behavior around food| Do you chew your food well? Do you cook your own food?
With nutrition and endo, it’s more about the individual’s response to certain foods. We are all too distinct to give absolutes when it comes to nutrition. But the recommendations above are a good place to start.
At PPW HQ, we’ll begin by understanding your endo, individual needs and constitution.
Focus on estrogen metabolism:
- By default, with endo you are low in progesterone and high in estrogen
- Focus on increasing foods to help metabolizing estrogen
- Consider using the DUTCH test to monitor hormones
Clean up what you use in the kitchen and put on your skin
- Stop using plastics
- Switch to safe beauty products and cleaning products
- Get rid of non-stick pans and use cast iron, stainless
When we work with you to treat endometriosis, we work with your entire healthcare team. Our functional nutrition approach includes, reducing inflammatory foods, cleaning up and supporting the gut, hormone support and targeted supplements.
Feel like you need more support?
For more individualized care, reach out to us here for 1:1 discovery call.
Disclaimer: the information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not designed to replace individualized recommendations from a practitioner. Always check with your doctor before adding supplements or making changes to your treatment plan.