Endometriosis is a reproductive disease affecting approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide. With the potential to cause severe pelvic pain, infertility and a myriad of physical, sexual, emotional, academic, quality of life and career issues, endometriosis has also proven it is more than just “killer cramps.”
Qualitative studies indicate that a large number of women with endometriosis remain under-diagnosed, ineffectively treated and isolated as a result of the disease. In contrast to this stark picture painted of the disease, however, the profound endometriosis symptoms are actually quite treatable. With early diagnosis and timely intervention, there is help – and hope!
What Is Endometriosis?
During the normal menses or period, the female body naturally sheds the endometrium (the clinical term for the lining of the uterus). In women and girls with endometriosis, however, some of this menstrual fluid leaks back into the body and begins to implant in the surrounding areas. This aberrant tissue still responds to hormonal commands and grows, menstruates and sheds. Unlike normal endometrium, however, these implants have no way of exiting the body and subsequently give rise to the disease.
The process results in internal bleeding, development of debris-filled cysts known as endometriomas, painful inflammation, production of irritating enzymes, and formation of scar tissue and adhesions (fibrous bands of dense tissue). These can lead to the “binding” or twisting of organs.
Commonly referred to as lesions, nodules or implants, endometriosis typically develops on the pelvic structures including the bladder, bowel, intestines, ovaries, fallopian tubes and elsewhere in the abdominal cavity region.
Though the pelvis is the most common site for endometriosis, the disease has also been diagnosed in other locations such as the diaphragm, lungs and other areas far outside the abdominopelvic region.
What Are Some Signs of Endometriosis?
Hallmark symptoms indicating that endometriosis should be considered as a possible diagnosis include:
- Painful menstruation; particularly severe cramping that lasts longer than 2 days
- Intermittent pelvic pain at any time in the cycle
- Painful intercourse
- Infertility and pregnancy loss
- Gastrointestinal and urinary tract difficulties
- Rectal pain
- Immune and allergy-related disorders
Unfortunately, due to a widespread lack of awareness, women and girls go an average of nearly a decade before their symptoms are accurately diagnosed. Complaints of “killer cramping,” particularly among younger women, are often dismissed as “normal.” Endometriosis can also masquerade as other disorders, including fibroids or adenomyosis, and not all women will have all symptoms – as many as one-third of women may not demonstrate any signs of the disease until infertility becomes an issue.
Endometriosis has also been associated with other health concerns, such as certain autoimmune diseases, fibroids, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis, and even certain malignancies, but this research is still too early to be conclusive.
A common myth about endometriosis is that the more endometrial cells accumulated in the body outside of the uterine cavity, the more pain it causes for the woman. Any amount of endometriosis can cause pain, and the disease does not need to be advanced to cause significant symptoms. Likewise, a higher stage (3 and 4) disease may cause little to no symptoms in some women.
Situations vary; moderate growth (stage 1 or 2) can trigger intense pain in some women while advanced growth causes less severe pain in others. Every woman’s situation is unique and therefore expert medical evaluation is absolutely essential.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or other infection of any kind, nor is it contagious. Often called a “disease of theories,” the definitive cause remains under debate. However, recent studies indicate that genetics, immune dysfunction, cell transformation (called metaplasia) and exposure to environmental toxicants may all be contributing factors. More recently, landmark studies have implicated mesenchymal stem cells in the origins of the disease.
Any girl or woman of any racial, ethnic and socioeconomic background can develop endometriosis, which is neither contagious nor preventable, but some patients may be genetically predisposed. For example, a woman with a mother or sister who has the disease is 6 times more likely to develop endometriosis herself. Those who begin their period at an early age, experience heavy periods, have periods that last more than 7 days, and/or experience short monthly cycles (27 days or less) may also be at an increased risk. Nonetheless, no single theory explains the development of endometriosis in all patients; more likely, a composite of several mechanisms is involved.
How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
Despite advances in medical technology, a confirmation of endometriosis still requires surgical biopsy. This is obtained through a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy, a typically out-patient, minimally-invasive procedure. Performed under general anaesthesia, this procedure allows your doctor to view the abdominal and pelvic organs to diagnose and subsequently extract the disease. Though, certain diagnostic tests can be used as part of a preliminary work-up, anything less than surgical confirmation of endometriosis is considered uncertain.
Unfortunately, women and girls are often misdiagnosed or directed to “manage” the pain for years with painkillers and other medications, but these only mask symptoms of the disease. Patients are also sometimes misled to believe that the only long-term solution is removal of all female reproductive organs, which is a myth. Endometriosis is not cured by removal of the reproductive organs. This dangerous misconception is responsible for countless, needless hysterectomies performed each year.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
In the long term, the typical pharmaceutical methods for treating endometriosis will cause the disease to worsen. The prolonged use of either strong painkillers or oral contraceptives is very harmful to the liver. Areas where endometrial tissue grows in the body become very inflamed, and the long-lasting inflammation prevents the body from properly healing. Therefore, one of the most important things for an endometriosis sufferer to do is reduce the amount of inflammation in the body.
Exercise in the week prior to the menstrual cycle can be very beneficial. Sweating is the only way to cleanse the lymph nodes, and endometriosis is a disease that is often influenced by toxicity.
Those who are sexually active in healthy relationships are less likely to experience endometriosis attacks, and the attacks are less severe for them. Korean researchers have labeled endometriosis a “working woman’s disease” for this reason. This insight has been ignored by the Western press due to political correctness. Intercourse shortly before menstruation will drastically reduce endometrial symptoms.
- Eat organic, grass fed meat. Avoid processed and factory-farmed meats, because they contain growth hormones which will make the problems worse. Iron is essential, so beef must be part of the diet. Iron supplements are less safe and they are poorly absorbed.
- Avoid refined white sugar, white flour, and white rice. The chlorination process used to bleach foods will leave some dioxin residues in the food, because dioxins are always a byproduct of chlorine. The (white) refined variants of these foods are very inflammatory. Read the ingredients and purchase “evaporated cane juice” for sugar. Use only brown rice and whole wheat flour, and do not use any carbohydrates that are not completely homemade.
- Honey is actually an anti-inflammatory sweetener, so it’s recommended. It is the ideal sweetener whenever it is a viable option.
- Do not use homogenized milk, ever. It is one of the most inflammatory food items available. If milk is needed, purchase non-homogenized milk from a health food store.
- Avoid all soy products. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body. They can cause major hormone instability, which will worsen the endometriosis.
- Reduce the intake of processed foods. Virtually all of the chemical additives are highly inflammatory to the body.
- Dioxins can also be found in municipal drinking water, because it contains chlorine. Women with endometriosis should take chlorine-free water, or use a water filter. A shower filter that removes chlorine is prudent, because inhaled chlorine vapours are extremely inflammatory.
Curing endometriosis is a process of providing the body with the nutrients that it needs to heal the liver, while keeping inflammation low, and flushing any toxins out of the body. For a better way to achieve this naturally, read about the Endometriosis Remedy Kit.
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