Endo Belly, Eating With Your Partner, and SIBO
Last updated: November 2020
Endo belly is a classic symptom of endometriosis, and probably the most visible symptom from an otherwise invisible illness. If you are unaware of what the ‘endo belly’ is, it refers to the abdominal bloating and discomfort that many endometriosis patients report, and may also be associated with other gastro-intestinal issues like diarrhea or constipation. This distention of the stomach can be so extreme that it can make the person experiencing it look 6-months pregnant.
Reducing endo belly by eliminating trigger foods
To deal with this bloating, people with endometriosis often identify foods that apparently trigger the bloating, and cut them out. Then they may find more foods are triggering and cut them out, then more foods and cut them, and on and on, managing the symptom without ever addressing the root cause and all the while restricting the foods they can eat and therefore the range of nutrients they consume.
This was the story of my partner and I as she tried to get on top of her endo belly. We would eat a smaller and smaller range of foods as we tried to identify the cause of the bloating, but every time and new trigger would seem to pop up. This made eating tricky as our meals were increasingly limited in terms of ingredients, and it made eating-out nearly impossible without seriously uncomfortable bloating afterwards. It also meant that I would often forget the complicated and ever-evolving list of outlawed foods and make mistakes when preparing meals, which made me feel like I was poisoning my partner!
How SIBO can trigger endo belly
There are several theories for the bloating caused by endometriosis, but none of these explanations are satisfactory. That is until my partner learned about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I’ll let her tell you all about it here, but in short there are a number of reasons that endometriosis patients may be high risk for SIBO, and a study has shown that a high percentage (perhaps up to 80%) of people with endo may also have the condition1.
SIBO is treatable
Perhaps this doesn’t sound like reason to celebrate. Replacing one name with another may not matter to you when the symptoms are the same. But for my partner and I, this has been huge! Not only does she have a possible explanation for several symptoms that she still suffers from even when managing her endometriosis, but SIBO is treatable and that means there is a road map for us to get away from the endo belly and back to having a more varied and exciting diet.
If you suffer from endo belly symptoms and you have endometriosis, read into SIBO and perhaps talk to a doctor who specializes in the condition. There are treatment protocols to follow and a high success rate of eradicating most types of SIBO. It may yet be possible to lose that bloat and go back to enjoying the foods you love.
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