Why is endometriosis such an important gynecological disease to be aware of?
Endometriosis is a chronic, painful, GYN disease that affects millions of women. What differentiates it from menstrual cramps is that the tissue that lines the uterus, the endometrium is found outside the uterus. Found in places where it shouldn’t be such as the cervix, the vulva, fallopian tubes and ovaries. When found in these locations, it can affects one’s ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant. When found in other locations such as the bladder, colon and anus it tends to reflect symptoms associated with those organs. Some of the common varied symptoms of endometriosis are:
• pain before and during periods, chronic or intermittent pelvic pain
• heavy and erratic menstrual bleeding
• pain during or after sex
• infertility, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies & failed IVF’s
• painful bowel movements, gastrointestinal cramping, bloating, gas and flatulence, nausea,
constipation, diarrhea, rectal pain
• lower back pain, leg pain, frequent urination, retention or urgency
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for years. Most gynecologist are unfamiliar with the cluster of symptoms associated with endometriosis, since often the distinction between common menstrual cramps is not differentiated from pelvic pain. If you have such debilitating pain and discomfort that it prevents you from going to work, school or attend social functions, speak with your gynecologist. If you have “unexplained infertility", repeated miscarriages or failed IVF’s, consider getting tested for endometriosis.
The only definitive diagnosis of endometriosis is done with a laparoscopic procedure. If found, a skilled surgeon will remove the implants. This procedure, done with the right surgeon, works well to remove the adhesions. Women who have had difficulty getting pregnant often do so within 6 months.
Pre-tests for endometriosis, though none of these can definitively confirm endometriosis, but can be suggestive of the presence of the disease include:
• ultrasounds, MRI scans , CA125 blood test and a gynecological exam
Using Dietary Adjustments and Curcumin by Reducing Estradiol Production as well as Inflammatory Prostaglandins
Higher levels of estradiol ( E2) have been found in the menstrual blood of women with endometriosis. In various studies, curcumin, the active chemical component of Turmeric, a popular Asian spice, was found to prevent the growth of endometrial cells by reducing the growth of the hormone, estradiol. In additional studies, curcumin has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties inhibiting NF-kB, COX-2, LOX-5 and 1, IL-6 and TNF-a and suppresses prostaglandins PGE2.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that function as mediators to a variety of physiological responses such as inflammation, muscle contraction, and vascular dilation. Actions all involved in primary and secondary dysmenorrhea.
An effective nutritional treatment plan to reduce levels of E2 and PGE2 include:
• eliminate or decrease amounts of red meats, alcohol, processed foods and sugar
• when consuming animal proteins choose free-range, antibiotic and hormone free
•increase all non-starchy vegetables; especially cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli , increasing fiber rich foods especially legumes and beans
• avoiding pesticides and heating food in plastic containers
• adding B vitamins which help the liver inactivating and processing estrogens
• liver detoxifying herbs such are dandelion root, milk thistle, burdock root and curcumin
• adding flaxseed, evening primrose, borage, pumpkin and Omega 3 oils
A Preventive Approach
For women who have already had surgery or who present with mild symptoms, educating and advocating them to make substantial dietary changes, adding supplements, herbal medicine and acupuncture can yield encouraging results.