What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a distressing and often painful condition that can sometimes interfere with your fertility. Chinese medicine and natural therapies can help treat the root cause of endometriosis as well as alleviate symptoms.
Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial tissue in areas of a woman’s body outside the uterus. It affects 10%–15% of women between the ages of 24 and 40, resulting in the following triad of symptoms:
- Pain during menses
- Pain with intercourse
This unwanted endometrial issue is usually found in areas of the abdomen, specifically on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the ligaments that support the uterus, the area between the vagina and rectum, the outside of the uterus, or the lining of the pelvic cavity.
Endometriosis is classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on how much of the disease is present and how much damage (scarring) it has done. Your gynaecologist will make the diagnosis based on:
- Your symptoms and a gynaecologic examination.
- Ultrasound examination.
- Laparoscopy, which involves putting a small camera through your belly-button and visually examining the pelvis and taking biopsies of suspected areas of endometriosis
As with many things, Western and Chinese medicine approach endometriosis differently. Western medicine can be very effective at treating the symptoms, such as removing scar tissue and repairing structural problems, while Chinese medicine focuses on the underlying causes for inflammation
Mild or Moderate Endometriosis
If you have mild or moderate endometriosis, your MD may prescribe birth control drugs to suppress the female hormones that are affecting growth. This therapy may reduce the endometriosis but it also prevents conception. As well, the endometriosis frequently reappears once you stop using the medication.
If you have severe endometriosis — with significant pelvic anatomy — your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the endometriosis and repair the damage to the reproductive organs. The effectiveness of this depends on whether a somewhat normal anatomy can actually be restored. Consult your gynaecologist.
How Chinese Medicine can Help
Chinese medicine can help reduce symptoms, regulate your menstrual period and balance your hormones. We encourage women who have abnormal bleeding, painful menses, or pain with intercourse to visit their gynaecologist for a complete medical assessment. If the endometriosis is mild, then Chinese medicine is a safe and effective approach on its own. However, if the endometriosis is severe, then a combination of Chinese and Western treatment will likely be the most beneficial.
Your Chinese medicine practitioner will develop a personalized treatment program with you that will include:
- Anti-inflammatory diet therapy
- Chinese herbs and supplements
The Chinese medicine approach is to support the body's ability to absorb retrograde blood, thus preventing endometrial implants from forming and even reversing some forms of endometriosis.
Mild or Moderate Endometriosis
With mild or moderate endometriosis, Chinese medicine can provide an alternative to drug therapy. While this treatment approach takes longer than the Western treatment, it addresses the imbalance causing the endometriosis instead of simply treating the symptoms. After four months, you should experience a reduction in pelvic pain, improved menstrual regularity and flow.
Acupuncture, herbal therapy, and diet helps reduce inflammation, enhance post-surgical recovery, and improve your body's ability to absorb the endometrial tissue.
We recommend the Acubalance Fertility Diet as an adjunct treatment for endometriosis. Our approach includes a gentle detoxification program along with an anti-inflammatory diet where you:
- Eat plenty of high fiber foods, which increase transit time in the intestines and promote an optimal balance of probiotics in the intestines.
- Increase liver friendly foods such as kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and rapini.
- Use more anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric (which protects against environmental carcinogens and decreases inflammation), ginger, milk thistle seeds, dandelion leafs and ground flaxseeds.
- Avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid or minimize dairy and gluten as they can contribute to inflammation.
- Avoid red meat because it contains large amount of arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammatory prostaglandins, inflammation, and pain.
Regular exercise has been shown in several studies to reduce a woman’s risk of endometriosis. Include at least 30 minutes a day of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise to help decrease your symptoms.
It’s also important for you to manage your stress. Chronic stress can increase the inflammation associated with endometriosis. Yoga, qui gong, and meditation are all great ways to reduce stress, increase feel good endorphins, and enhance your wellbeing.
Supplementing your diet with good quality fish oil can help reduce pain symptoms and decrease inflammatory response. Choose only supplements proven to be from low mercury short-lived deep water fish. Discuss with your Acubalance practitioner the best supplements and brands to reduce your pain and inflammation.