Confronting My Endometriosis

So this is my first truly personal blog post. It’s a topic that I rarely talk about unless with my close friends. Roughly three years ago I had a feeling that something was wrong. I have always had painful periods but things just seemed to be getting worse. I, like many of you out there, am a googler. I did my research, which I wouldn’t really recommend, and had a feeling that I had endometriosis. I scheduled a meeting with my doctor to go over my symptoms and like most of you was reassured by my family that “I’m sure everything is fine”. But still I had a feeling something wasn’t right.

Sure enough, my doctor said from my list of symptoms that it was likely I had endometriosis. She scheduled a laparoscopy to confirm.

Endometriosis is one of those words that is floating in the air, on commercials and in the news but if you aren’t aware of what it is here is an explanation.

“Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant (infertility).”

In October 2011, I had my surgery and received confirmation that I did in fact have endometriosis. They even showed me photos of what it looked like and where they were growing. Post surgery my doctor gave me a few options for dealing with the pain which included hormone shots or additional surgeries. She then told me once I was ready to start a family to give it 6 months and then come back to see her if we had problems. And that was it. That was all the information I received.

I’m not saying that the medical world failed me. My doctor provided me with the medical advice that I needed. What she didn’t provide me was a direction for how to manage and accept my new diagnosis as well as the best resources for more information. I accepted the fact that I was going to be in pain frequently and continued on to do my own research on my options for minimizing the pain. The online world is full of false information and misguided advice, so I am much more trusting of published books. I purchased Endometriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition. It was full of useful information on how to change your diet in order to reduce endometrial growth. Simple guides on what food to avoid such as beef, white breads and dairy products. Basically anything that has additional hormones in it. So I took the advice of the book and incorporated the changes into my daily diet.

As the idea of starting our own family become more and more of a thought I started my research again and found information on increasing my fertility. Knowing that it could be a genuine issue with my diagnosis I wanted to start researching right away. As I am researching fertility information I came across a blog that has in 5 minutes given me more information and understanding of my condition then 3 years of research, doctors and reading has done.

And all I could think is WHY HADN’T I KNOWN THIS!

The blog I am referring to is www.cureendometriosis.com/

This blog is what sparked my need to discuss my own condition in order to better educate those who are also suffering. In the article 3 Starting Blocks for you to figure out Endo! She goes an overview of the 3 things that stimulate and aggravate endometriosis.

1. Your Immune System

Recent research shows that there may be a direct link between endometriosis and immune system (this includes frequent yeast infections, allergies, and hypothyroidism) You are also more likely to suffer from Candida. What is Candida you may ask?

“Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, and a very small amount of it lives in your mouth and intestines. Its job is to aid with digestion and nutrient absorption but, when overproduced, candida breaks down the wall of the intestine and penetrates the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body and causing leaky gut. This can lead to many different health problems, ranging from digestive issues to depression.” – mindbodygreen.com

Here are 10 common candida symptoms

  1. Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus)
  2. Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  3. Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  4. Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis
  5. Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD and brain fog
  6. Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
  7. Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  8. Vaginal infections , urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching
  9. Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
  10. Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings

For many of you your thinking alright, what’s the big deal. But for someone who has just come to realize that all the small disorders and problems I have suffered from my whole life may be linked. That’s a “Light bulb” moment. I can honestly say that I can check 7 of the 10 symptoms on this list. Things I until now believed were completely unrelated. And for the record skin and nail fungal infections is not one of them. ☺

2. Your Thyroid

According to Melissa “I have recently been studying the effects of low iodine on women with Endometriosis and the figures are astounding. Most of us with Endometriosis have low thyroid function. This low thyroid function (Hyperthyroidism) is often a result of simply lacking enough Iodine. What is interesting about this is that low iodine can trigger growths in the wrong places!”

By doing very minimal research I found lots of information on how to boost your thyroid function.
Starting with these tips from Dr. Oz:

Eat more of these great sources of iodine to enhance thyroid function:

  1. Low fat cheese
  2. Cow’s milk
  3. Eggs
  4. Low fat ice cream
  5. Low fat yogurt
  6. Saltwater fish
  7. Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
  8. Shellfish
  9. Soy sauce

Eat less of these foods; they slow your thyroid because they block your thyroid and your medication from producing thyroid hormone properly, especially when eaten raw. Cooking these foods inactivates their anti-thyroid properties. These foods are called goitrogens, which are chemicals that lower thyroid function. Eat these foods sparingly or only once every four days:

  1. Almonds
  2. Cauliflower (Any vegetable that falls into the broccoli family is a goitrogen and shouldn’t be eaten more than twice a week if you have hypothyroidism.)
  3. Millet
  4. Pears
  5. Turnips
  6. Brussels sprouts
  7. Corn
  8. Mustard
  9. Pine nuts
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kale
  12. Peaches
  13. Soy (Isoflavones block iodine)
  14. Canola oil
  15. Peanuts
  16. Spinach

Workout every day – strongly suggest working out/walking every day so your thyroid gets a boost daily to correct the condition until your thyroid is running at an optimal rate.

Easy peasy. Why had no one just told me these simple things. And anyone who knows me this almost knocked me off my feet.

Here are symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  1. Feeling tired, weak, or depressed.
  2. Dry skin and brittle nails.
  3. Not being able to stand the cold. If your hands and feet get cold easily (this happens to me constantly!)
  4. Constipation.
  5. Memory problems or having trouble thinking clearly.
  6. Heavy or irregular menstrual periods.

Again, I can check several of these symptoms.

3. Toxins

There is extensive research being done now on the link between environmental toxins and endometriosis. Since no one knows what causes endometriosis I think this is a really interesting study.

So I did some additional research of my own. Here are some of the toxins being examined:

  1. Dioxin and dioxin-like chemicals – the most common source of human exposure is fatty food of animal organs. In the U.S., milk and dairy products and meat have been by far the most important sources.
  2. TCDD – Can be found in certain herbicides. The greatest production occurs from waste incineration, metal production, and fossil-fuel and wood combustion.
  3. PCBs- Individuals can be exposed to PCBs through breathing in contaminated air, consuming contaminated food, and by skin contact with old electrical equipment that contain PCBs.

If you would like to do your own research you can start with the Oxford Journal

In her post she didn’t include the toxins and where they come from. The reason I included the toxins was not to scare you into moving to a remote village to grow your own vegetables and cattle. It was to draw out the importance of cleansing your body of toxins which was her point. Here are her 7 tips of cleansing.

I’m not normally a person who takes a political stand on an issue and I’m also not someone who focuses entirely on all natural and holistic healing. I take Tylenol when I have a massive headache and Tums when I have an upset stomach. What I am is someone who wants to be informed of all my options and to know that not everything works for everyone. I do feel frustrated that like most people I go to the doctor to be informed of my health and to get advice on how to be a healthier person. So why had no one informed me of all these possible interconnected symptoms, or the eating habit changes I could be making to ease my pain. Why was hormone therapy and surgery the only “treatment options” given to me. Even when doing research online my finding were clouded with these options.

From my own personal experience I do believe that medical intervention is sometimes a necessity. And I myself have gone through more then one journey of needing medical help. But sometimes what I also need is alternatives.

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