MY LIFE WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS
I remember having painful periods in high school but not thinking much of it. I just took a painkiller and went on my way, little did I know that this was the beginning of a nightmare to come. I went on the pill not long after high school and my painful periods were long forgotten for a good decade. Life was great and it was a distant memory.
Once I became a naturopath I decided that being on the pill was not such a healthy choice so I chose to stop and this is when that pain from the past reignited. Each month the pain was severe though only lasted for several hours but as the years went by the pain started to linger for a full day and then two. Pain killers stopped working and I couldn’t work out why; it was really starting to affect my life. After about seven years the pain level was almost intolerable and lasting for nearly three full days each month. Still no painkillers helped and I would end up in bed or in the bathtub crying in agony and praying that each hour would pass quickly. Just like clockwork, after sixty hours the pain would switch off and I was back to my normal functioning self. For ten years this pain carried on and as there were no other symptoms to indicate a problem I just accepted that this was my ‘normal’. After a decade I started seeing an acupuncturist who suspected endometriosis. I was too scared to get an official diagnosis knowing surgery was involved so I put it off. After eight months things got worse to the point where my pain spread over half the month, so I bit the bullet and went to a gynaecologist. In a whirlwind moment I was booked in for a laparoscopy and two days later I was admitted to hospital where I was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis. I had excision surgery to remove the endometriosis but unfortunately the adenomyosis was left as only a hysterectomy can remove that problem. My next couple of periods after surgery were extremely painful and I realised that I could possibly live the rest of my life with this pain.
A few months after surgery I decided to give my diet a massive overhaul. I am already a healthy eater but I could see that I could still make some big changes that could impact my pain levels. I removed dairy, gluten and refined sugar from my diet and cut back a lot on red meat, excess animal fat and alcohol. Fortunately for me I don’t drink caffeinated drinks or soft drinks so I didn’t have to worry about that. With a cleaner diet and some good quality supplements I am well on my way to less pain each month. The other bonus for me since I changed my diet is that I discovered I have reversed my autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s), another inflammatory condition. Maintaining my weight has also become more important to me as I know that oestrogen tends to store in fatty tissue; excess oestrogen and hormone imbalance can aggravate endometriosis, causing more pain. My hope is that I can help others out there to empower themselves with better diet and nutrition, reduce pain and still enjoy great tasting food.
OTHER WAYS TO REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS
Xenoestrogens are hormone-like compounds which can be natural or synthetic and have an oestrogenic effect on our endocrine (hormonal) system by mimicking our own oestrogen. Oestrogen influences the growth of endometriosis and promotes some of the associated symptoms. [53,84,85]
Dioxins are a type of xenoestrogen which disrupt the endocrine system, increase the severity of endometriosis and can promote inflammation. [29,50,51,52] Dioxins can occur naturally in nature though the ones that are commonly found in the food chain are man-made and are caused by industrial byproducts from processes such as paper bleaching, large scale incineration and burning of fuels. The toxins are emitted into the atmosphere and end up in the soil where livestock graze. The toxins remain in the fat and milk of the animals.
SOME WAYS TO REDUCE XENOESTROGENS EXPOSURE
*reduce animal products, especially dairy, beef and eggs
*eat lean cuts of meat and avoid offal, toxins store easily in fat and are processed by the animal’s liver
*use bleach/chlorine/chemical free feminine hygiene products e.g. tampons and pads
*use bleach/chlorine/chemical free cleaning products e.g. white vinegar or eco friendly cleaners . choose organic food where possible e.g. fruit and vegetables
*avoid using plastic for storage and heating of food, use glass or ceramic
*use stainless steel water bottles rather than plastic
*use chemical free makeup/perfume and the most natural body products you can find e.g. paraben free and sulphate free
*eat fresh food but if eating tinned food choose BPA free cans
*avoid non-stick pans like Teflon, choose chemical free cookware
*drink filtered water e.g. reverse osmosis
*choose seafood that is lowest in mercury e.g. fish that are smaller with a short lifespan
*avoid smoking and passive smoking
WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY CLEAR EXCESS OESTROGENS
*regular exercise e.g. daily brisk walking . high fibre diet e.g. predominately plant based
*maintain healthy liver and bowel function e.g. eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables, avoid junk food and alcohol
*avoid intake of unfermented soy products to reduce oestrogen interference e.g. flax, tofu etc
*lose excess body weight, oestrogen stores in fatty tissue . avoid xenoestrogen exposure including the pill [78,86,87]
For more information about what to eat and what not eat to help alleviate painful symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis, please go to www.thebikinicookbook.com and order either My Endo Friendly Cookbook (ebook) or The Bikini Cookbook Mediterranean (ebook) for only $9.95. Each ebook has 50 delicious recipes that are accompanied with a beautiful colour photograph. My recipes are gluten free, dairy free, non-fermented soy free, no added sugar with grain free options.