Endometriosis & Estrogen Dominance
Endometriosis affects approximately 1 in 10 women in Canada. It doesn’t discriminate and it affects women equally across all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
What is endometriosis?
The technical definition is a painful disorder where uterine tissue (aka the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus. It mainly affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissues lining the pelvis, but it can also spread beyond the pelvic organs.
This uterine tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. This is problematic because there’s no way for this to leave the body and becomes trapped in the pelvis. This causes inflammation and irritation, and eventually the body develops scar tissues and adhesions that cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.
Endometriosis can be an extremely painful condition, particularly during menses. In addition, it’s associated with infertility.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are:
- Extremely painful periods
- Pain with sex
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Heavy bleeding or even bleeding between periods
- Low back pain
- Pelvic pain
What causes endometriosis?
The exact cause is unknown but the following are a few theories:
- Retrograde menstruation where menstrual blood that contains uterine tissue cells flows back through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity
- Transformation of peritoneal cells where hormones or immune factors cause the cells that line your pelvis to change into uterine cells
- Embryonic cell transformation where hormones (such as estrogen) changes embryonic cells to change into cells that are similar to uterine cells and these implant during puberty
- Surgical scar implantation where uterine cells can attach to a surgical incision such as a hysterectomy or C-section
- Endometrial cell transport where blood vessels or the lymphatic system may transport uterine cells to other parts of the body
- Immune system disorder where the body can’t recognize and destroy cells similar to uterine cells that are growing outside of the uterus
How does estrogen play a role?
More and more research is showing that endometriosis THRIVES off of estrogen. Estrogen is responsible for the thickening of the endometrium, which is the lining of your uterus that eventually sheds with each menstrual cycle.
Estrogen dominance can occur if you have high levels of estrogen or if you have higher levels of estrogen in comparison to your progesterone levels. Many of the symptoms of estrogen dominance are the same as endometriosis, and vice versa.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- trouble sleeping
- weight gain, sluggish metabolism
- brain fog, depression, irritability, poor memory, mood swings
- thyroid dysfunction
- PMS headaches
- breast tenderness, breast swelling, fibrocystic breasts
- PMS, irregular menstrual periods, heavy menstrual flow
- decreased sex drive
How is it diagnosed?
The symptoms of endometriosis are usually very specific.
In addition, the following diagnostics can be used:
- Pelvic exam
- MRI to get detailed information about the size and location of the endometrial tissue to help your surgeon plan the surgery
- Laparoscopy, which is a surgery that allows your surgeon to see the uterine tissue outside of the uterus. A biopsy can also be taken for further testing.
What can an MD offer?
Conventional medical treatment of endometriosis usually consists of medications or surgery.
- Pain medication
- Hormone therapy including birth control, GnRH agonists & antagonists, progestin therapy or aromatase inhibitors
- Laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis tissues
- Hysterectomy with removal of ovaries
What can an ND offer?
My approach to treating my endometriosis patients is to first take my WHOLE patient into consideration. She doesn’t just walk in through my door with only endometriosis. I would look into her energy levels, sleep, diet, lifestyle, digestion, immune system, etc. I would also particularly focus on her endometriosis symptoms, periods, stress levels and coping mechanisms, medications, supplements, medical history and any available lab work.
The following would be incorporated into her overall customized treatment plan:
- Diet modifications to focus on a more anti-inflammatory diet
- Ensuring a regular exercise regimen
- Working on stress is KEY – identifying the triggers, developing stress management skills and possibly using supplements, botanicals and/or acupuncture
- Hormone balance is also very important – ensuring a regular cycle, normal flow and with the goal of minimizing severe monthly symptoms
- Cleaning up toxic products
- Ensuring proper digestion to promote the elimination of excess hormones
- Supporting the liver to ensure the proper detoxification of hormones
If you’re interested in working with me to cope with your endometriosis, CONTACT ME HERE to set up your complimentary 15 min discovery call/meeting and we can get started.
What’s a discovery call/meeting? It’s where we get to know each other better to ensure that I’m the right practitioner for you and that you have the opportunity to ask your questions about Naturopathic Medicine before we move forward with an initial Naturopathic consultation.
Here are a few more posts on women’s health that you might also be interested in:
- Women’s Health or Hormone Testing or Fertility
- What To Do If You’re ALWAYS Tired
- What’s a Menstrual Cup?
- Vitamin D and Menstrual Cramps
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Birth Control Does What Else?!?
- Trying to get pregnant? Test your ferritin levels!
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