Endometriosis: The best foods to manage a condition which is as common as diabetes

INTIMINA release awareness campaign for endometriosis

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What are the main causes of endometriosis?

There is as yet no known cause of endometriosis. As a result, this means it can be difficult to treat. The NHS says a number of potential causes include:
• Genetics
• Retrograde menstruation
• A problem with the immune system
• Endometrium cells spread through the body in the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

While these are listed as a potential cause, the NHS says “none of these theories fully explain why endometriosis happens”.

On the potential cause of the condition, Ms Jesson said: “Endometriosis is known to be dependent on oestrogen, which facilitates inflammation, growth and pain associated with the disease. However, it is complex since the absence of oestrogen does not always preclude the presence of endometriosis.“Several other factors are thought to promote the development, growth and maintenance of endometriosis lesions. These include altered or impaired immunity, complex hormonal influences, genetics and potentially, environmental contaminants.”

Since scientists and doctors do not know how endometriosis is caused, this makes it difficult for them to identify a way to treat it. As with other conditions, dietary changes can often help alleviate symptoms.

Ms Jesson suggested: “Eating anti-inflammatory foods such as: salmon, bone broth, celery, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, blueberries, ginger, turmeric, chia seeds and a tablespoon of flax seed over cereal or yoghurt daily.

Furthermore, Ms Jesson added that “avoiding dairy, processed foods high in refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol” can also help alleviate symptoms while adding “a teaspoon of both turmeric and ginger powder to a cup of boiling water and drink once daily and three times daily when experiencing symptoms”.

Alongside the addition of ginger and turmeric to tea, Ms Jesson also recommended a natural remedy known as castor oil which can be “massaged into the painful areas to help rid the body of excess tissues [or] massaged into relax pelvic muscles to help reduce pain and inflammation”

What are the main symptoms of endometriosis?

Endometriosis can cause a range of symptoms including:
• Pelvic pain
• Period pain that prevents someone doing normal activities
• Pain during or after sex
• Pain when peeing or pooing during a period
• Feeling sick
• Constipation
• Diarrhoea
• Blood in urine
• Difficulty getting pregnant.

The NHS adds that it was important not to underestimate the impact endometriosis can have on someone’s life: “For some women, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression.”

As a result, it is essential that those around the individual with endometriosis work to support them through a difficult time and support them when symptoms are at their most uncomfortable.

As well as dietary changes, there are a range of treatments available on the NHS to help women who are suffering through this condition.

One of the easiest ways for symptoms of endometriosis to be alleviated is through the usage of painkillers or anti-inflammatories such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.These can help provide relief from the discomfort caused.

Alternatively, hormone medicines and contraceptives can also be employed. Examples of this include the combined pill, the contraceptive patch, an intrauterine system, and medicines known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues.

If these do not work, more invasive treatment may be required such as surgery to cut away patches of endometriosis tissue or an operation to remove part or all of the organs affected by endometriosis.

While this last option is the most invasive, it is important to note that it is not certain this surgery will be needed as, on occasion, the symptoms can improve of their own accord.

Can endometriosis cause complications?

Unfortunately, like all chronic conditions, endometriosis can cause a number of severe complications such as complications relating to fertility, adhesions and ovarian cysts, alongside bladder and bowel problems.

On problems with infertility, the NHS writes: “Endometriosis can cause fertility problems. This is not fully understood, but is thought to be because of damage to the fallopian tubes or ovaries. But not all women with endometriosis will have problems and will eventually be able to get pregnant without treatment.”

As a result, it is not guaranteed that women with endometriosis will not be able to get pregnant, however, they may have a lower chance of getting pregnant. Should this be the case, the NHS also has IVF services which can help a couple conceive.

While not all women with endometriosis will have this issue, it underlines just how disruptive the condition can be and why awareness of it is crucial, so that partners and loved ones alike can support those with a potential life long battle with the condition.

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