Endometriosis Diagnosed: Now What?
So you’ve been struggling with pain, irregular and/or heavy periods, fatigue, and/or difficulty with urination or bowel movements for a long time and finally got someone to take you seriously enough to send you for a laparoscopy.
You’ve been given the diagnosis of endometriosis and might have been told the surgery was a success, but now what? For some people having a label on how we feel can be a huge relief but for many people it just opens the door for more questions.
Of course, everyone experiences endometriosis differently so your treatment should be individual to you and your needs, however, here are some general tips:
If you have not yet engaged in any forms of emotional support this might be a good place to start. Endometriosis Australia has a page of support groups available to join or you may like to reach out to a counsellor with experience in chronic pain or health. Having a long-term health concern is stressful and really hard to explain to those that don't understand, which is why family, friends or your network can be helpful to a degree but sometimes it can be really beneficial to engage with others who know how you feel or have experience in your condition.
As science is coming to understand, Endometriosis is not a hormonal condition, it is an inflammatory condition and so to support your recovery, it makes sense to reduce inflammation as much as possible. This could be with the use of anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric and ginger or nutrients like n-acetylcysteine and fish oil, along with a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, and low in dairy, gluten, sugar and trans fats. Yes, that's right, unfortunately dairy and gluten appear to worsen pain for those with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is not technically classified as an autoimmune condition, however, it does behave in some similar ways. Many natural health practitioners have been finding that by supporting the immune system, patient quality of life is improving. Again this can be supported with the use of nutrients such as zinc or with herbs such as those containing berberine. Working on gut health and the microbiome is another area where the immune response can benefit.
Physical treatments have shown a lot of promising results for supporting all aspects of Endometriosis as well as post-surgery recovery. Studies are currently being conducted on the benefits of acupuncture for endometriosis in lowering pain and regulating cycles with a lot of anecdotal evidence showing positive results. Women’s health physiotherapy, massage and TENs machines also have an amazing wrap for their benefits.
Symptom relief is of course the number one priority before the longer-term treatments and thankfully there are more and more studies being undertaken for different natural therapy options. PEA, a compound that works on the endocannabinoid system, has shown some promising results for reducing pain scores and the need for medication use. Magnesium may also help, particularly with those who experience non-local pain such as in the back and legs.
So as you can see, you have some options to explore and regardless of whether your symptoms have significantly improved or only by a fraction since your surgery, employing some of these points is going to support your overall wellbeing moving forward.
Please speak to a practitioner before trying any of the herbs or nutrients mentioned.