5 Things I Wish I’d Known about Endometriosis
Last updated: July 2019
When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I felt I was missing information around what I could do to improve my symptoms. I trawled the internet and did my research and while there were some resources available, much of it was conflicting or from a medical perspective rather than from a natural health or patient perspective.
In the years leading up to my diagnosis, I had no idea what was going on with my body, why it was going haywire, and no-one seemed to know either. It took years to get my endometriosis diagnosis and when I did, no-one really offered advice on the management of the disease other than medical intervention such as the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), opioids, and fertility drugs.
So in this post, I’m sharing the top 5 things I wish I’d known about endometriosis when I was first diagnosed. My hope is that this information will save you months of heartache and searching around where to start when you’ve been given the diagnosis of endometriosis.
1. Find your health practitioner A team
Finding health practitioners who really know, understand, and specialize in endometriosis is key. It’s also about having a team, not just a doctor but also finding therapies that work for you such as nutrition, acupuncture, yoga and herbal remedies. The downside to this is it can be expensive, so it’s a matter of finding what works for you and prioritizing.
2. Gut health is important
In the beginning, I had no idea why my belly would swell up and I’d look like I was 6 months pregnant after eating pasta, or why after a night out drinking alcohol my pain was so much worse. It took me a few months of searching and experimenting to realize I needed to cut out gluten, drink less alcohol, and generally eat better.
It turns out diet and gut health is pretty important when it comes to endometriosis; a study found that women with endometriosis are 5 times more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) than women who don’t have endometriosis.1 What’s also interesting is that studies are emerging which report a link between dysbiosis (an impaired microbiome) and endometriosis.2
What I discovered is that there’s no one-size-fits all when it comes to diet. It’s about finding what works for you. Finding a good health practitioner to help guide you and help you improve your gut health is a good place to start.
3. Nutrient deficiencies are a problem
Five years ago, I had no idea that being on the OCP could cause nutrient deficiencies, in fact it turns out the Pill can cause deficiencies in folic acid, B2, B6, B12, vitamin E, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.3 Given my diet and my gut health wasn’t great either, I was a prime candidate for micronutrient deficiencies. There is scientific literature which shows there is a link between diet and endometriosis risk and one study found that thiamine, folate, vitamin C and vitamin E are inversely related to a risk of developing endometriosis.3,4 I’ve worked to correct my deficiencies over time through diet and supplementation which has helped me feel a lot better.
4. Reduce stress
While some level of stress can be ok, chronic stress is detrimental. High levels of perceived stress can cause an imbalance within the body which can contribute to the progression of endometriosis through altering hormone secretions, additionally chronic stress can also increase pain sensitivity and stress reactivity.5 Taking time out for self-care is really helpful; I love to meditate, practice yoga, and listen to autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) to help me relax and manage my stress levels.
5. Natural approaches take time
Trying to improve your symptoms through diet and other natural approaches takes time and commitment, it’s not a quick fix. For me, it involved a complete lifestyle change. It took me about 4 months to start to see the benefits from all my changes to my diet, increasing my physical activity, and reducing my stress levels, but it was definitely worthwhile.
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