Endometriosis affects 10 – 15% of all menstruating women.
The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. Each month this is shed in the form of a period. Endometriosis occurs when stray fragments of this lining find their way into the pelvic cavity and attach themselves to various organs and tissues. These endometriosis growths are still influenced by female hormones, and continue to bleed each month. Bleeding into the abdominal cavity causes scarring, adhesions and severe pain.
There is compelling evidence that endometriosis may be an autoimmune disease, and sufferers are at increased risk of other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- PAIN. Be suspicious of periods which suddenly become painful. Pain on intercourse, or during bowel motions is also common.
- Heavy and painful periods
- Abnormal bowel motions during periods
- Unexplained exhaustion and lethargy
TCM understand endometriosis as resulting from a blockage or stagnation of the flow of qi and blood in the abdomen. Chronic blood stasis can result in “masses” in the abdomen such as fibroids, cysts or endometriosis. Blood stasis often occurs as a result of long term qi imbalance, especially affecting the kidney and liver meridians.
Women with endometriosis can benefit greatly from a long-term commitment to TCM treatments. There are no quick, overnight “fixes” with this condition, and treatment often involves several months of regular acupuncture, along with herbal and nutritional medicine; dietary change; exercise and stress management.
Women usually begin to notice an improvement by the time of their third menstrual cycle after starting treatment (sometimes earlier). Improvement is usually noticed as increased energy and a more regular and less painful period.
Naturopathic recommendations include the use of magnesium and essential fatty acid supplements and a diet low in animal protein, alcohol, caffeine, sugar etc. Changing estrogen metabolites through diet and nutritional medicine also helps to reduce the ongoing stimulation of endometrial growths. A gut and liver detoxification protocol is also recommended to improve breakdown and excretion of estrogen metabolites.