What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic medical condition in which tissue that lines the uterus, called endometrium, grows outside the uterus. With each menstrual cycle, this tissue undergoes the same growth as we see in the uterus, resulting in inflammation, pain, scar tissue known as adhesions, and cysts known as endometriomas. Endometriosis treatment is crucial since this condition affects roughly 10% of reproductive-age women.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
- Pelvic pain
- Painful periods
- Painful Intercourse
- Painful Bowel Movements or Urination
- Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding
- Fatigue due to chronic pain and heavy menses
- Digestive symptoms like – bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Back Pain
- Difficulty getting pregnant
Pelvic and menstrual pain are the two most common symptoms of endometriosis. There are four stages of endometriosis, ranging from minimal to severe. In some circumstances, someone may have endometriosis but show no symptoms at all. If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, regardless if you have painful periods or not, we must assess for endometriosis. See the Endometriosis and Fertility section below for more details.
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
Currently, the only way we can diagnose endometriosis for certain is by viewing it directly through a minor surgical procedure called laparoscopy. This is why it can take up to 10 years to get a confirmed diagnosis.
There are other ways we can make an informed conclusion that endometriosis is likely:
- Assessing your symptoms and severity
- Labwork: CRP-S, ESR, Platelets to Lymphocyte Ratio and CA-125
- Review of your risk factors
This assessment can be provided by a Fertility and Hormone Focused Naturopathic Doctor.
What causes Endometriosis?
There are multiple theories on what causes endometriosis, unfortunately, the exact cause is still unknown.
Endometriosis tissue is sensitive to the effects of the hormone estrogen. Those suffering from endometriosis would benefit from lessening their exposure to external estrogen and ensuring optimal detoxification of estrogen through the bowels.
We also know that dysfunction of the immune system likely plays a major role in endometriosis and increases the level of pelvic inflammation.
There is also a genetic connection to endometriosis. Those with a mother, sister, or aunt with endometriosis are 7x more likely to have endometriosis as well.
Endometriosis and Fertility
Unfortunately, endometriosis can negatively impact fertility in the following ways:
- Lower egg quality
- Lower AMH
- Painful intercourse
- Blocked Fallopian tubes
- Endometriomas affecting the ovaries
- Poor uterine environment affecting implantation
- Elevated inflammation
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Be Used for Endometriosis Treatment?
Just because you have endometriosis does not mean you are infertile. Many individuals with endometriosis can get pregnant on their own or with assisted reproductive technology like IVF.
Naturopathic medicine has evidence-based tools to improve your endometriosis and optimize your fertility.
A Fertility-focused Naturopathic Doctor can:
Provide an Assessment of Endometriosis:
- Through history-taking and lab testing
Provide Endometriosis Treatment to:
- Minimize symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and digestive concerns
- Reduce inflammation and improve the immune system
- Educate on external estrogen exposure and how to properly detox
Improve Fertility with Endometriosis Treatment:
- Improve Egg quality
- Improve AMH levels
- Break down of adhesions and reduce the size of endometriomas
- Optimal nutrients to target pelvic inflammation and fertility status
Provide Ongoing and Collaborative Support for Endometriosis:
- Recommendations of other reputable healthcare providers and services
- Discuss fertility preservation and medical treatment options
- Monitor and provide ongoing support for continued health improvements
Wondering if you have endometriosis or are interested in treating endometriosis naturally? Book a free 15-minute discovery call to learn more about how naturopathic medicine can support you.