March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Endometriosis (commonly referred to as ‘endo’) is a condition that effects one in 9 women. It occurs when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus, is found in other parts of the body.
Endometriosis symptoms can include fatigue, pain (during ovulation, menstruation, sex, urination and/or bowel movements), bloating, mood changes, changes in bowel or bladder patterns, heavy and/or irregular bleeding; and in some cases, infertility.
Whilst it is normal to experience some mild pain or discomfort during the menstrual cycle, pain that prevents women from participating in normal daily activities like school, work or recreational activities, should be investigated.
What are the stages of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is classified by four different grades, or stages.
Stage 1 or minimal endometriosis is when there are small endometrial patches, inflammation and mild adhesions.
Stage 2 or mild endometriosis includes multiple endometrial patches as well as possible scarring and adhesions found between the uterus and the rectum.
Stage 3 or moderate endometriosis is when the sufferer experiences all of the above and the endometriosis has also extended to adhesions on the ovaries.
Stage 4 or severe endometriosis is when the disease also impacts other organs such as the bladder, bowel and pelvis.
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
Whilst some doctors may be able to suggest that endometriosis is present based on the patients’ symptoms and what they can assess via an external examination, a laparoscopy is required for diagnosis and to determine the full extent of the condition.
A laparoscopy involves inserting a thin telescopic tube into the abdomen though a small incision. Because the incisions made during a laparoscopy are quite small, recovery time is relatively quick; with most patients able to resume normal activities within a week.
How is Endometriosis treated?
Treatment for endometriosis is determined by the symptoms, severity and the areas that are effected by the disease.
In some cases, endometriosis pain relief may be achieved from over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Some practitioners may prescribe hormonal treatments such as the pill to suppress the menstrual cycle and to slow the growth of the disease.
In cases where pain relief medications are not effective, the patient wants a medication-free solution or the disease is widely spread, a laparoscopy that includes the burning and/or cutting away of endometriosis may be considered.
In some severe cases and where other treatments have been ineffective, a hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries and/or bowel surgery may be required.
Can a Naturopath help treat Endometriosis?
Naturopaths can help treat endometriosis. A Naturopath can liaise with your GP or gynecologist to ensure that medications and treatments for endometriosis are complimentary to one another and effective for your individual circumstances.
When seeing a Naturopath for endometriosis, he/she is likely to do a comprehensive review of your health systems; including digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive systems. You Naturopath can also review laparoscopic reports and blood tests to help determine the severity of the disease and to ascertain if the endo is contributing to hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D and Iron (which can be a common side effect of heaving bleeding).
In many cases, a Naturopath will be able to help you manage symptoms associated with endometriosis by providing dietary and lifestyle advice, assist in the correction of hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies, provide symptomatic pain relief and if required, provide fertility management plans.
Our Ballarat Naturopaths are available for private consultations Monday through to Friday. Contact the store on 53315316 to make an appointment.