Endometriosis - a cause of tummy pain

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What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when one or several pieces of the lining of the womb somehow migrate (no one knows how) and turn up in other parts of the body. Usually they are near the womb, stuck to the tubes or outside of the womb, but may become stuck onto the ovaries, gut or even migrate up to the lungs. These pieces of womb are responsive to hormones which means each piece swells up towards the end of every menstrual cycle and "bleeds" at every period time. Because the blood cannot escape, it remains and so there is a slow build up of cellular debris. This debris is usually contained in its own bag, but there is potential to press on surrounding tissue and disrupt the normal anatomy. Furthermore patches of endometriosis may be irritant and painful. Women typically suffer from pelvic pain which classically begins before the period is due and continues after the period has finished.

There is no ideal treatment for endometriosis. Small well defined patches can be removed surgically - however this is not always possible since there may be several deposits. Any surgery will leave scar tissue which has its own problems. Conventional medicine likes to use hormones but these too carry problems.

What causes the problem with endometriosis are the natural hormone levels fluctuating with each period. If hormone levels were kept constant, the patches of endometriosis would not grow. Because endometriosis can cause infertility, the sufferer needs to decide early whether she wants to have a family. Being pregnant keeps hormone levels stable. So does breast feeding. Sometimes this combination seems to settle the endometriosis down completely.

Obviously going through the menopause has the same effect. The menopause stops the progression of endometriosis.

The problem is the woman who does not yet want either of these things. Convential medicine will recommend anti-hormone preparations like Danazol but these often have side effects. Sometimes there is no choice.

If I was to be pressurised into suggesting what is the cause of endometriosis, my guess is that it has something to do with the fermenting gut. It does seem to be associated with yeast problems and, of course, Western diet and lifestyles.

The environmental approach to treating

I do not have much experience in treating endometriosis, but I would tackle it in exactly the same way as I tackle all problems:

  1. The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health
  2. There is a school of thought which believes that endometriosis is a "candida" problem. This may be worth investigating further - see gut dysbiosis and Kefir. See Fermentation in the gut and CFS, Yeast problems and candida
  3. Try anti-oestrogen herbal preparations such as agnus castus. This has mild progesterone and testosterone like effects (it is a partial agonist) and is used for a wide variety of menstrual disorders. It has the effect of ironing out hormone wobbles. The usual dose is 20mgs daily. Side effects are rare.
  4. If there are any other problems such as PMT, treat these using the environmental approach too - it is surprising how often there are unexpected bonuses in other departments. If you find something which really works well, tell me about it!

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