Endometriosis – Are you suffering in silence?
If you were to ask the 10% of women of reproductive age who suffer from endometriosis what it is, I can almost guarantee that they won’t reply by saying it’s a harmless disorder that only bothers them during their period.
Indeed, when we recognise that one class of endometriosis (often referred to as ‘deep endometriosis’) can grow around the cervix and dive deep into the bladder, ureters, bowel and pelvic nerves, it’s easy to see how some would view it as a pelvic nemesis.
But what is endometriosis?
· Endometriosis is where tissue very similar to the ‘endometrial tissue’ that lines the womb grows outside the womb, generally in the pelvic area but also in the lungs, diaphragm, liver, pancreas and other organs. During menstruation this tissue will also bleed, similarly to uterine tissue, however unlike uterine tissue which exits the woman via the vagina, this blood has nowhere to go, and the sufferer is then left in a scenario where inflammation, adhesions, scaring and damage to other tissues becomes their reality.
· When we really think about it, women’s bodies are amazing. Every month we grow new endometrial cells inside the womb, our uterine tissue grows and thickens in preparation for a fertilised egg which can nestle into this blood and nutrient rich tissue, and, if no fertilised egg arrives, a hormonal messaging system will alert the brain that there is no pregnancy and it’s time to slough off the thick endometrial membrane tissue and begin to build anew.
· The shedding of this tissue is menstruation (and the colour of menstrual blood will be discussed in another blog!) and many hormones play a role in the building and shedding of the womb lining, some of which reside deep inside our brain and – as a side note – that’s why part of your therapy plan with Cork Hormone Health Clinic may involve brain nourishment protocols as we implementation Functional Medicine at it’s very best.
So why do things go so awry in endometriosis?
· No one has fully concluded why or how this tissue grows outside the womb or – if it’s not true endometrial tissue – why it mimics endometrial tissue so closely. Instead we’re left with a variety of theories about the causes of this often-debilitating disorder. It’s likely however that there isn’t just one cause, and that several factors are involved and play a role in the development of endometriosis.
So, how do we help our endo clients?
Well, a Functional Medicine approach for anyone with endometriosis should always be considered. This approach focuses on:
management of inflammation
liver health and how we metabolise and clear our hormones (endometrial tissue creates its own!)
sleep and rest
Biomedical nutrition and lifestyle medicine are the medicines of choice for any functional practitioner. But note, Functional Medicine Practitioners are those who are recognised by the USA based Institute of Functional Medicine (www.IFM.org) and are highly qualified and trained in Functional Medicine and are not simply practitioners who agree with the ethos of functional medicine. Just as you would choose your endometriosis surgeon with care, you also need to choose our Functional Medicine Practitioner with equal care, so make sure they’re eligible to be listed as a Functional Medicine Worldwide Practitioner with the IFM.
Finally, we are very transparent with our clients, and stress that therapy under us is not a ‘quick fix’ but an on-going and evolving state of pelvic, hormonal and gynae health rehabilitation and our ultimate aim is to furnish YOU, our client, with a therapy plan that helps you recover from or comfortably manage the symptoms you are dealing with and any co-morbidities (additional conditions) such as IBS, vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, PCOS, insulin resistance, and more.
We’re here to help you in any way we can.